Witness How It All Began
In 2013, the World was introduced to a terrifying-new cinematic concept with “The Purge”; one that allowed all crime to be legal for 12 hours so that Americans could purge, causing the crime rates to plummet the other 364 days of the year. With “The First Purge”, we see that it all began as an experiment in Staten Island. Isaiah (Joivan Wade) and his sister Nya (Lex Scott Davis) share a crummy apartment in an impoverished-area, designated at Ground Zero for the experiment. For those residents willing to stay, each will be given $5,000, with the rewards for participating being much, much greater. Conceived by scientist Dr. Updale (Marisa Tomei), Chief of Staff Arlo Sabian (Patch Darragh) and the New Founding Fathers of America see it as a means to improve society. As the experiment (deemed-The Purge by the public) begins, participation is very low; much against the data that was expected. Seeing this as their only chance, the NFFA take matters into their own hands to ensure the experiment’s success.
Against his sister’s wishes, Isaiah decides to join the purgers with the hopes of finding only one person, a junkie who sliced him with a razor blade named Skeletor (Rotimi Paul). Once Nya finds-out, she leaves her safe haven to go find her little brother. Insistent on protecting her and her brother, local Gang Leader and Nya’s ex-boyfriend Dmitri (Y’lan Noel) must use all of his available resources to save them and their friends Dolores (Mugga), Luisa (Luna Lauren Velez), and Selina (Kristen Solis) from their impending doom as they try to survive until the end at 7:00 am.
What makes these films so compelling and terrifying is that the premise is far from being impossible in today’s World. However, “The First Purge” may be the most haunting yet as various social and political overtones really make you hope no one is taking notice and considering any ideas like this. First, the film challenges, specifically, the lower class minority population as the NFFA sees it as a way to save money. The film also shows the Government’s capability of manipulating society to achieve desired results, which also brings fear to the viewer. However, these films are meant to entertain and not serve as a blueprint for the future. One of the major successes of the film is our “hero”, played by Y’lan Noel. Noel is given a great character-arc, but it’s how he plays the role that gives him the most praise, shown as a man on a mission who is searching for redemption; some of the scenes even draw-“Black Panther” vibes with his heroism. Look out, he’s about to become a big household name (hopefully)! Of course, another major point of interest in these films is the creative action and bloodshed. While some of the deaths are imaginative, most of the fun happens in the action department. However, I can easily say this is one of the most enjoyable of the sequels of the franchise; filled with fun and intriguing characters and close-to-home plot the will resonate with viewers all over. With a run time of 99 minutes, the film flows smoothly as the tension and suspense continues to build. It does allow for a few too many side-story lines, some interesting some not. As for the editing, my one complaint is that there is an overwhelmingly-glaring mistake (something you can catch in the TV spots/trailers) that looks as if it was just an oversight in the finished production.
Overall, “The First Purge” is a fun, creative sequel that looks at what is wrong with society and our views on the Government’s ulterior motives. Meant entirely for entertainment purposes, “The First Purge” serves up a mostly-enjoyable offering of fear and carnage that feels that it could entirely happen in our near future; hopefully not though!
THE FIRST PURGE is rated R for strong disturbing violence throughout, pervasive language, some sexuality and drug use, in theaters JULY 4TH!