Firstly, I should mention that I’ve only seen the first film of the franchise, so I didn’t go and watch the film with much of an idea of what to expect or have anything to compare it to in my head. I didn’t have a particularly strong opinion one way or the other of ‘The Purge’, but I was interested to see what would be done with the concept of it with America’s current political state being a constant cause for concern. It’s no secret that Trump’s presidency has been controversial and one way that opposition has been shown towards him is through art. ‘The First Purge’ is definitely an example of this, and it’s so blunt about it that I’m surprised they didn’t have Childish Gambino’s ‘This is America’ playing during the end credits or have a Donald Trump look-alike as the villain.
Even if the film does completely lack subtlety, it’s nice to see a mainstream film that takes a look at things from the perspective of minority groups. Most of the main cast are African-American including the protagonist, Nya (Lex Scott Davis), who is a passionate activist fighting against the purge experiment. The main problem is that it seems to take itself too seriously overall, even if it does have comedic relief from Nya’s neighbour Dolores (Mugga) who is the best part about it. Can I just have a cut of this film where it’s all from her perspective please?
Overall, it’s difficult to decide how I feel about ‘The First Purge’. It has some interesting aspects with its political backdrop but it’s so obvious about it that it can take you out of the film. There are some lines of dialogue from the antagonists that are flat and boring, but Davis’ performance is grounded and she’s easy to empathise with. I also like the twist, which in a way paints an optimistic picture of humanity. There’s also some good fight sequences to appreciate, especially one between Dmitri (Y’lan Noel) and some mercenaries in a stairway that was choreographed really well. The film definitely has flaws but there’s enough to like about it to make it an entertaining time.