The First Purge
Directed By: Gerard McMurray
Starring: Y’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Mugga, Patch Darragh, Marisa Tomei, Luna Lauren Velez, Karen Solis, Rotimi Paul, Mo McRae, Jermel Howard, Siya, et. al.
In the not-too-distant future, crime, overpopulation, and unemployment threaten to destroy the United States economy, and their best hope is to try an extremely unorthodox social experiment called The Purge, which would allow citizens to rid themselves of all violent impulses over a 12-hour period. Using New York’s Staten Island as the base of operations for the first trial run, they use a cash incentive to get citizens to remain during the test. Nya, a Purge critic, stays to help others who stayed behind just for the incentive money. Meanwhile, her brother, Isaiah, secretly stays behind to get revenge on a drug addict who threatened Nya’s life. Dmitri, a local gang leader, stays with his lieutenants to protect to business assets. Watching all of it is the Chief of Staff for the newly elected president, put into office by the New Founding Fathers, as well as Dr. Updale, who created the archetype for the Purge, and who becomes suspicious after previously unseen gangs of killers suddenly appear toward the end of trial period.
This prequel to the massively popular Purge franchise is another entry into the horror-by-association category, and once again goes more for the urban action format instead of a true horror/thriller. There’s also very little new information presented in this movie. Those who had seen the previous installments already knew that the NFFA was using the Purge as a means of population control and thinning out the lower classes, who couldn’t always afford to properly secure themselves in their homes. And that they would send out their own kill squads to ensure a ‘successful’ Purge. The acting is middling, with Tomei seeming to be an out of place acting choice since the other actors aren’t necessarily immediately recognizable. Despite this, the characters all work well together, and the actors have decent chemistry.
There are a few effects beyond the typical background filler, but the technology isn’t quite as futuristic as seen in the previous installments, since it’s supposed to take place closer to the present.
Anyone who liked the previous installments should like this one as well, and since it’s an origin story of sorts, the uninitiated shouldn’t get too confused if they decide to watch. You shouldn’t feel too bad about spending the money on a rental if you decide to go that route, and it’s not tedious enough to grate on repeat viewings.
The First Purge isn’t available free to stream anywhere at the moment, but it can be rented from Redbox or Netflix home delivery service, or purchased from a participating store or on-line retailer.
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