The First Purge is watchable, but offers nothing we haven’t already seen

Universal's The First Purge, photo via
Universal's The First Purge, photo via /

The First Purge is an hour and a half of corrupt politicians, annihilation of poor neighborhoods, and gobs of violence, except it’s nothing we haven’t already seen before.

After three Purge movies, it’s time to put the franchise down. Purge the Purge and get rid of it.  Each Purge has its problem. The first one is boring, the second chaotic, the third completely insane, and now the fourth is tedious. Watching The First Purge felt like watching a room full of squirrels clawing each other’s eyes out over a nut, then stopping during intermission to discuss political debates. I’ll give it credit for trying to combine everything in the original three. It had the suspense, the action, the insanity, and the governmental propaganda, but it’s not memorable in any way. Be that as it may, it certainty earns its place within the Purge universe.

Note: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen The First Purge in theaters! 

The First Purge tries to be more of a horror movie than its predecessors, spending time on slow motion shots of the crazy people out and about who like popping out of the ground and shadows. There’s one scene where a teenage boy is walking down an alley and sees people pressed against apartment windows, slowly waving at him. A couple of jump scares and laughing maniacs running around on the streets, and very few suspenseful moments. Basically, the purge is like Christmas for nuts cases.

It’s clearly the franchise’s attempt to fix the confusion in the series. Mostly every one can agree this franchise lacks a solid backstory, but if this movie was supposed to explain how the Purge came to be it, all it did was retell what we already know. Again, trying to fix the confusion, they show other crime instead of murder this time. The first three movies stress heavily that all crime is legal, yet people only commit murder. Now we see some regular vandalism; a group of purgers throw a block party and don’t do anything really illegal.

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Opening the movie, is probably the greatest scene within the franchise, starring the Purge mascot. A man with rotting teeth and crazy eyes, ranting about how angry he is, how much he wants to release the anger; how he wants to purge. Seriously, this guy should be the spokesman for the movie. Moments after the siren rings, he’s the first to run outside armed with a couple of knives and needles tied to his knuckles. But in contrast with this new, shockingly interesting character, they have a recycled plot and a boring supporting cast.

Plagued by an all high unemployment, poverty, and crime rate, the New Founding Fathers of America are desperate for an answer. No longer economically able to support lower-income citizens, they devise a social experiment disguised as an anger release program, to eliminate this burden because they don’t want spend the time to actually fix it. The movie does all it can to give Trump the finger. Protests in the streets, black and white racial conflicts, and Trumps “grab ’em by the pussy” line makes a cameo. They also mention the governments war on opiates two minutes into the movie. To make it even more obvious, there’s also white supremacists all over the place.

The First Purge
Universal’s The First Purge, photo via /

The experiment is held on Staten Island for a test run before being spread nation wide. They’re plan is to force the community to execute themselves by paying people $5,000 to not only stay home on Purge night but to participate in the activity. The more they participate the more they are paid, consequently increasing the chances of a murder spree. There’s only a few white people and they’re all villains, used to symbolize modern-day Nazis fighting an all African-American cast.

Y’Lan Noel, our first non-white Purge hero, is the new Frank Grillo, but with more character development. He’s got some big guns, and some actual guns too. The man is a crime lord but fights like an assassin; takes out Black Ops agents without breaking a sweat. Along with the crazy guy with the rotting teeth, he’s the best part of the movie. If they ever make another one of these things, I want to see a Noel and Grillo buddy-up vigilante action flick, teaming up to take down “the man.”

The motivation for the purge plays off as a plot twist, except we already know what the purpose of the purge is from Anarchy and Election Year. You know what a real plot twist would have been? A good Purge movie.

The First Purge
Universal’s The First Purge, photo via /

Next: Is The Purge franchise headed to your TV?

Collectively, I’d say this is an okay movie, certainly watchable, but not made with any quality or creative thought. The only creativity to be seen is the different ways they kill people and the variety within their wardrobe department. Another movie to add to the franchise that’s decent enough to squeeze out another film in a few years.

The First Purge gets two and a half stars. Probably a movie to watch on your day off when you have nothing else to do.