Writer: James DeMonaco (Screenplay)
Starring: Y’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Mugga, Patch Darragh, Marisa Tomei, Luna Lauren Velez
Plot: The film will be a prequel that will focus on the events that lead up to the very first Purge event.
Tagline – Witness the Birth of an American Tradition
Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Nice Prequel
Story: The First Purge starts as scientist Dr Updale (Tomei) has come up with an experiment to let people have a 12-hour crime free night to help unleash stress from the world, with the new government rising, Chief of Staff Arlo Sabian (Darragh) has funded this experiment on Staten Island.
The residents are from the lower class divided between the druggies and the minimum wagers, Nya (Davis) who supports her younger brother Isaiah (Wade) know the hardship of the life of crime, her ex-boyfriend, the King of Staten Island Dmitri (Noel) has thrived in it, however they are both against the Purge. When the Purge starts we get the usual mixed results before the bigger picture becomes clear and Dmitri must lead the war against the invading groups coming to the island, this is just the beginning of the bigger picture.
Thoughts on The First Purge
Characters – Dmitri or D is the king of the island, running the drug world, keeping the closest to him out of it, he demands loyalty from his soldiers, but grants respect if people don’t get involved in his business. He still has a candle in his heart for Nya and once her learns the truth about the Purge he goes to war to protect his neighbourhood. Nya is one of the lead campaigners against the Purge, she wants to keep the people safe, especially the ones with nowhere to go. Her brother is the most important part of her life and she will not let anything happen to him or let him fall into the wrong crowd, tonight will be her biggest test as her past will become key to surviving. Isaiah soon becomes the one character you hate the most, he is a high school kid (I think) that has tried to enter the life of crime, even with a door open to him to make clean money, he sees the Purge as a chance to get revenge on druggie that attacked him, he is one of the examples of what it would be like if a real purge happened, he would be all talk and not be able to follow through. Dr Updale create the concept, she wants it contained to prove it would be a success, but little does she know the real plan for the idea. Arlo Sabian is the Chief of Staff overseeing the operation and he will get results no matter what happens. In the rest of the mix of characters we get, the friends from the neighbourhood trying to survive something they had no choice but to be a part off, the psychos who come out of the woodwork with Skeletor being both over the top and interesting to watch and we have the gang that surround Dmitri with their own quirks that are never fully used.
Performances – Y’lan Noel for me was the true star of this film, he had to step into the shoes left by Frank Grillo as the bad ass action figure in the film and he shines, it felt at times like we were watching a Blade audition from this actor. Lex Scott Davis is good for the emotional material, but when her character comes to making smart decisions we don’t see her at her best because Nya makes too many horror cliché mistakes. Joivan Wade is fine, but nothing more as are the rest of the cast, Patch Darragh is never as menacing as he should been and Tomei doesn’t get the time to give her character the full development.
Story – The story here teaches us how the Purge came about, with an experiment in a contained environment, now this is a good and a cad thing, first the good, we do have an early interaction between Dmitri and Nya opening discussion how a drug lord acts with murder everyday of the year, what will the Purge do differently, this was smart, but never followed up on. The whole how with the people react as they need the money thing worked too. The negatives come from the idea the psychos are ready for this night, we understand that for later instalments, but the first one seems strange. The second thing that seemed strange was, diving straight in the political agenda, we know this happens later in the franchise, but if you were to watch the film in order of events, the very first film would feel completely out of place now. As for the most part of the night, we know how these go now, we watch a small group try to survive the purge against the odds and it becomes a wild action ride story.
Action/Horror/Sci-Fi – The action once let loose if great, it doesn’t hold back and potentially gave us a new action star. The horror has continued t go downhill in this franchise as it becomes more of an action franchise, we get a couple of jump scares and that is it. The sci-fi used in this film follows a world where a night of killing or committing crime can happen, while this does seem to be the first in the franchise to address the idea murder isn’t the only crime, which is better for the concept.
Settings – Staten Island is the setting, now the contained environment is a good thing, the problem here is, if you don’t know anything about this location, you won’t know what the neighbourhood will mainly contain regarding race and class of the people there.
Special Effects – Now the effects are interesting, the kills, well you can’t complain at all, but when it comes to the contact lenses that make them look like 80s werewolves, well this becomes weird and annoying, even if it makes sense why they are wearing them.
Final Thoughts – This is another good addition to this franchise, that does know it is over the top and has continued to keep he social messages on the nose.
Overall: Great addition to the franchise.