the-first-purge-pg4_advance1sheet_rgb_2_rgb-720x1140I haven’t kept up with The Purge movies. I saw the first one and didn’t really care for it. It took what on the surface was a great idea and then inexplicably turned it into a fairly dull home invasion movie with some social commentary thrown in. Why narrow the focus so much? It didn’t make sense. The two sequels passed me by. They have, however, made a ton of cash. So what do I know?

The First Purge isn’t so much a prequel to the Purge series as it is a sequel to Get Out. There are bits of The Raid in here. There are bits of Attack the Block. The end is basically Die Hard. Written by James DeMonaco, who has written and directed all previous installments, and directed by Gerard McMurray, this is the movie that the first Purge probably should’ve been.To push crime rates below 1% and restore the economy, the New Founding Fathers of America have declared an experiment that’ll Make America Great Again. Honestly, it doesn’t make a huge amount of sense. It never has.

In Staten Island, for 12 hours, no crime will be punishable up to an including murder, and participants will be rewarded with $5,000. This largely black and latino community, while concerned about the implications, are more interested in throwing street parties for the event than they are killing each other, which forces the NFFA to take matters into their own hands.

We see the story through the eyes of local drug king-pin D’mitri (Insecure’s Y’lan Noel), his ex-girlfriend Nya (Lex Scott Davis), and her brother Isaiah (Jovian Wade) and the main urban villain of the piece Skeletor (Rotimi Paul) who is quite happy to kill as many people as he possibly can with syringes attached to his hand a la Freddie Krueger.

The action is beautifully choreographed and shot and the violence is visceral and brutal at times, but seldom has brutality been staged so perfectly. I’m honestly struggling to think of an American movie that presented its violence in a more artistically satisfying manner. I guess my main problem was I just didn’t care too much if the drug baron lived or died.

It doesn’t take much to see the satire and social commentary of life in the US in 2018. There are allusions to Dylann Roof’s Charleston massacre. There are things that are eerily similar to the events in Charlottesville. You’ll no doubt see things that remind you of the Black Lives Matter movement. There’s even a pussy that is in very real danger of being grabbed. There’s a red cap version of the poster. The movie does nothing to shy away from these comparisons, rather it shoves it right in your face and perhaps it does it a little too forcefully.