What’s More American Than Hotdogs, Fireworks & The First Purge? (Movie Review)

The First PurgeI wasn’t sold on Universal’s first Purge film in 2013, but the acting of Frank Grillo in the second 2014 outing made me an instant fan.  The third installment, 2016’s Election Year, was pretty good, but nothing in my opinion can top that “you killed my son” moment in Anarchy.  However, I digress.  We’re not here to measure sequels, but instead to talk about the all new Purge prequel titled The First Purge.  It releases everywhere nationwide on our Nation’s Birthday, July 4th (with some showings tonight too).  This one tells the story of how it all began with the New Founding Fathers of America testing our Nation’s first ever Purge out in one isolated community.  I think y’all knows what happens next, but the getting there part is what makes this sociological experiment worth the watch.  At least that is what I was hoping for going in.

The First Purge may be billed as a prequel, but as you probably counted up above its actually the fourth installment in the Purge franchise.  It depicts the origins of the first annual “Purge” night.  For those of you who need a recap in regards to what that’s all about the Purge is the 12 hour period once a year where all crime in America, including murder, is completely legal.  It’s a chance for you to release the beast so to speak.  I should mention this is also the first film in the series not to be directed by James DeMonaco, but he’s still the writer here.   Gerard McMurray is up to bat in this one as the director with an actor lineup consisting of Y’Lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Luna Lauren Velez, Peter Parker’s Aunt May, Marisa Tomei, and more.  So here’s what it’s all about.

The First Purge

Remember how they tried to explain in Stars Wars: The Phantom Menace what midichlorians were and how the trade war started the rise of the Empire, etc.?  Well that’s sort of what The First Purge sets out to accomplish with explaining how Purge night came to be and of course the oppression of the minorities, which the government uses the annual holiday as an excuse to “cleanse” out let’s say.  So needless to say just like The Phantom Menace this movie did not necessarily need to be made, but unlike the Star Wars prequels these Purge movies are cheap and profitable for the studio.  In other words they’re a win-win!  While I won’t go into too much spoiler territory, not that there’s much to spoil here, I do want to give you the basic gist of it all to paint a proverbial picture.

Our country, the United States, is in turmoil.  It’s not the land of big dreams and opportunities anymore.  The New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) enter the scene to win the hearts of voters and take the country away from the Republicans and Democrats.  However, what they inherit is a hot mess even they don’t know how to handle.  So one brilliant lady came up with the idea of the Purge, but it was only in a sociological experiment kind of conception.  She never intended it to be used for real out in the streets of Staten Island, NY or the whole country as we know it to be in the first three Purge films.  However, the NFFA is met with resistance.  Lots of people don’t want or view the Purge as favorable, but ultimately see it as a way to only eradicate the poor and minorities.  They are onto something there, but the NFFA is offering financial compensations for complying with staying on the island and even further monies for participating in the experiment,  They also have other tricks up their naughty sleeves to make the American people believe this experiment on Staten Island is/was a smashing success.

The First Purge

I have to be honest with you all.  I was bored for the first half of this film.  I sat there thinking I never want to watch this movie again.  It felt like a gangster version of Madea or a bad experience sifting through endless drama posts from Facebook users rather than a straight out horror/slasher film like the first three Purge movies have been (minus their usual social commentary).  It takes a while for this one to really get going as it really feels like an endless bloated social commentary throughout the first half.  It was downright boring and it felt like the plot was drowning in its overuse of its own ideology.  Then it happens!  After a long lull the horror and freakiness aspect of the Purge series springs to life.  Suddenly it’s go time!  The Purge masks come are put on and the crazies come out to play.  Purge parties are the newest rave.  And there’s also interesting characters out there purging, most notably two women who have a fetsih with baby dolls and this guy who I’ll call simply call Weapon X.  LOL.  He’s so awesome in this one that you almost overlook the bad choices and cheesy dialogue of the hero characters.  Before you know it’s like you’re in a real world haunted house full of unexpected horrors around every turn and I suddenly find myself loving it and able to have some fun.  But wait!  There’s more!

I don’t want to spoil anything, but I have a new modern day favorite action hero.  Ha ha.  I wish he could have been Marvel’s Black Panther.  This one character’s arc sees him literally becoming the savior of this movie for me.  And that’s just it.  The main selling point of this feature for me suddenly became it’s raw, brutal and insanely visceral action sequences.  Holy hell!  The battles get real within the apartment sequences.  The villains and purgers are still freaky as can be, but the violence and brutality to protect the truly innocent is second to none.  The beast is released!  The film’s second half manages to pull a sinking ship out of the water, back into the harbor and instill interest within me.  There are a few scenes of fire and explosions that are going to look horrible on the eventual 4K Blu-ray release of it, but I got to admit.  I’m actually looking forward to revisiting this one again on my favorite home media format.  How about that?  Thirty minutes into this one I never thought I would ever be saying all this.  Now you know what to do for your Fourth of July holiday tomorrow.  Purge my readers!  Purge!

The First Purge


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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