Here it is – my review of The First Purge.
Not the very first The Purge, but The First Purge. Erm… not 2013’s The Purge, but 2018’s The First Purge.
That really is going to cause a lot of confusion.
For those unfamiliar with the Purge franchise, the concept of the films sees a world in which for 12 hours, once a year, all crime is legal. This includes murder.
The result is that crime is at an all-time low for the rest of the year.
When the first Purge . . . let me rephrase that . . . when the 2013 original Purge came out, I remember hearing about it and thinking what a genius concept it was – the first unique horror in quite a while. But then I watched the film and I was surprised to see that it was just your typical home invasion movie. What’s the point in having such a unique idea if you’re just going to make something we’ve seen a thousand times before?
The next two films expanded the universe but still never quite reached its full potential.
I expected the fourth instalment to go much bigger than before, but surprisingly it has taken a huge step back.
This prequel sees The Purge being trialled for the first time ever within a small contained space. In this experiment, residents of Staten Island are given five thousand dollars each to stay home during the 12 hours of the Purge… and are offered even more money if they get involved themselves.
With this being the first one ever, there’s a more political side to the story. We see rallies and protests from those against The Purge, and we learn a little more as to why the government thought it was necessary in the first place
The protagonist of this movie is a guy called Dmitri (newbie Y’lan Noel) who happens to be a drug lord. Not only is he a womaniser, but there are kids selling drugs for him who are getting stabbed in the streets…. and we’re supposed to be rooting for this guy?!
What I will say about Noel is that although I didn’t like the way he was written into this story, he is a fantastic actor. I see some huge roles coming his way. In fact Oscar-winning actress Marisa Tomei (Spider-Man: Homecoming) is the only really recognisable face.
As for the villain, we have Skeletor (Rotimi Paul) – a coke-sniffing psychopath who’s hard to take too seriously. At the start of the film we see him sinisterly talking into the camera about how angry he is with the world and everyone in it. But he’s just so animated and over-the-top that he was swaying more towards comedic than scary.
And speaking of scary, for what is essentially a horror film, it’s lacking in this department. In fact, I’m not too sure this film knows what it is. Like I said, it’s not scary. There’s no suspense. You could also say it’s more of an action movie, but it’s not really that either. Sure, there’s lots of bullets flying around, and a lot of knives swaying back and forth… but there’s no substance to the action. It’s also trying to be a bit of a political thriller, but again, it’s half-hearted about it. It keeps cutting to protests and shots of news reporters talking about the experiment, but it only scratches the surface.
With The First Purge being an experiment, the government are closely watching the events unfold across numerous cameras. About 45 minutes into the film, one character is watching one of the monitors and says out loud, “There’s nothing happening!” – to be honest, he read my mind.
When you’re the fourth movie into a series, you’re in a position to hit the ground running. The audience shouldn’t be waiting 45 minutes for the first kill. Let’s be honest – most people are watching films like this to be entertained for 90 minutes by pure carnage!
Overall this was just very poorly put together. It felt like a made-for-TV movie. I didn’t care for the characters, I wasn’t scared by the horror, and I wasn’t thrilled by the action.
Honestly, I try to see the positives in all films but I struggled with this one – and the sooner it’s removed from memory the better.
[youtube id=”UL29y0ah92w” width=”600″ height=”350″]
Cast: Marisa Tomei, Melonie Diaz, Lex Scott Davis, Luna Lauren Velez, Patch Darragh, Rotimi Paul & Y’lan Noel
Running Time: 1 Hr 52 Mins
Director: Gerard Mcmurray
Visit www.showcasecinemas.co.uk for the latest up-to-date showtimes for movies at Showcase Cinema de Lux Peterborough. You can also join the chat on Twitter @showcasecinemas or on Facebook by searching for ‘Showcase Cinemas UK’.