"Intelligent social satire with claws"
by Nina Romain for remotegoat on 02/08/18

This latest installation is set before the initial Purge movie, which in 2013 starred Ethan Hawke and Brit Lena Headey. The fourth filmin the series opens with the first night of lawlessness being suggested by America's third political party, the New Founding Fathers of America. This trial Purge is being run as an interesting, possibly socially beneficial social experiment.

The New Founding Fathers provide due warnings to potential participants about the dangers while offering generous financial rewards of $5000. It's a bit like a nationwide Big Brother meets The Running Man, with added machine guns. The residents volunteering to stay at Staten Island and Purge are obliged to wear fluorescent electro blue contact lenses to record what they see while rampaging.

Writer James DeMonaco provides some good dialogue as when residents, justifiably nervous that when the Purge chaos starts that their "'Hood is gonna be a Coliseum" ,and debate who is going to be a lion or a Christian.

Director Gerard McMurray does his best with a flimsy plot involving a protective older sister trying to persuade her younger brother to stay on the straight and narrow. Her ex attempts to persuade her he can look after her family, but she insists her family will successfully hide somewhere off the island. Meanwhile, her brother has plans to earn the $5000 by donning the fluoro lenses.

There are some entertaining touches, such as instead of rioting straightaway, the remaining Straten Island residents remain law abiding. In a celebratory mood due to the $5000 soon to be in their bank accounts, the residents cheerfully decide to hold a peace-and-love style "Purge Party", and make the most of the lack of cops and noise abatement by holding a glow stick rave in fancy dress. Even when finally someone decides to profit from a lawless situation, the worst they do is make the imminently sensible decision to hijack an ATM and run off with some cash.

From here, however, it all goes horribly wrong as a local psycho (as impressively creepy Rotimi Paul as Skeletor) murders the would-be ATM thief and then wreaks havoc at the peaceful Purge Party. As mass panic breaks out, we start to suspect there's something much worse happening behind the scenes where the top brass (including a formidable Marisa Tomei). And sure enough there is. The writing falls apart badly at the end, with the coincidence that Skeletor could actually find and track our heroes back home in order to murder them.

However, the effective small cameos, such as the old lady alone on a street corner holding aloft a homemade cardboard sign warning against the Purge, ignored as darkness falls and the poor gamble with their lives, and some sharp writing that make this the sharpest, smartest Purge yet.

Other recent reviews of The First Purge
The First Purge
Suitably gentle for Purge beginners. by Dorothy Billing
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