At first we saw the Purge through the eyes of the rich, then we saw it through the poor, and now we get a blending of the two. A lot of stuff online says that this is the first on the franchise to be a direct sequel since we see the continuation of the story of Sergeant from Purge: Anarchy but really we also got a furthering of the story of the bloody stranger from the first movie in that film. Which also continues on to this installment. Unfortunately there is some weird conflicting timeline stuff with this movie but I’ll get into that in a bit.
We start with seeing a family, captured and tortured on Purge Night but not given a year. The killer forces the mother to choose who will survive and the daughter is the only one to make it out alive. 18 years later, that daughter is a Senator running for president on an anti-Purge platform. Looking to get rid of her, the New Founding Fathers of America decide to lift the exemption of government employees on Purge Night so they can assassinate her. The Sergeant, now given the name Leo Barnes, is heading up her security team and when things inevitably go sideways, it’s up to him, a deli owner, his employee, and an ambulance driver to try to keep the Senator alive through the night.
It’s the “18 Years Later” thing that ends up being the sticking point in this film. We got actual years for the first couple films (2022 and 2023 respectively) and we know from that that the first Purge only took place about 6 years before the events of the first movie. Even assuming the Senator’s traumatic events happened on the very first night, that still puts this movie 11 years after the second one but Leo seems the same age and even references the events of Anarchy as being “a couple years ago”. Internal timeline consistency aside, I like the idea of the 18 year gap because of what that would mean for the characters in the film. When an awful teenager that gets caught stealing comes back to kill the store owner, it makes more sense and is much more tragic because now you have to imagine this girl as someone that has never known a world where a Purge didn’t exist and this level of retaliation over something so small is just what you do.
Even though he doesn’t get a ton of screen time, I love seeing the bloody stranger, now revealed to be named Dante Bishop, go from being victim, to activist, to leader in this film. We get a lot of mention of the “American dream” here with the deli owner’s employee being an immigrant from Mexico and the movement of Dante from homeless man to revolutionary leader. We also see the “American nightmare” side of things as we see people from other countries coming over for “murder tourism” saying that this is what America represents and we see the corruption of religion that preaches fear and death instead of love. Of course now that the movie brings up tourists and other countries, I am dying to know what exactly the international response to America having a murder holiday was.
Score: 4 out of 5. I think for a movie franchise as inherently political as this one, making politics actually be the front and center issue is a good move. While it tends to feel more political thriller than horror movie, there is still plenty to be scared of even if it doesn’t involve something jumping out at you.