The fourth movie in ‘The Purge’ series takes us right back to the beginning, introducing us to the days leading up to and including the very first purge. It’s the weakest of the series, and while not exactly a bad movie, you’re kind of left wondering why they even bothered.
The site of the new ‘experiment’ is Staten Island, NY, and in the run up to it’s commencement we’re introduced to quite a few of the locals, most of which aren’t that memorable once the end credits have rolled. Some of them are angry, and looking to embrace this new way of being able to legally release their anger. Some are out to protect their illegal business interests, and some just want to keep their heads down and ride out the night with as little trouble as possible. In an effort to keep people on the island during the experiment, the NFFA offers $5,000 to anyone who does stick around for the night. And, if they actually participate in the purge, they’ll get a nice bonus! Glowing contact lenses containing tiny cameras are on offer to those that do wish to partake, allowing their movements and actions to be tracked and seen by all, and providing a suitably creepy effect when worn out in the dark.
Unfortunately though, purge night doesn’t get off to a great start. While most streets are clear, a number of block parties start up, and the only murder that takes place has been by the local crazy guy on drugs. So, they decide to stir things up a bit by sending in trained teams, disguised as locals, in an attempt to incite violence. When this happens, and innocent lives are lost, local drug boss Dmitri and his team of dealers decide to take things into their own hands. With their arsenal of automatic weapons, they seem surprisingly well trained in the art of taking out the mercenaries, and this is where the movie is at it’s most enjoyable. As Dmitri strips down to his white vest and heads into the tower block where a number of bad guys are sweeping each floor, taking out innocents as they go, we get some fantastic action sequences. It’s all very reminiscent of The Raid, with a dash of Die Hard thrown in. Close quarters stairwell fighting, gun fights, explosions, all beautifully choreographed and ramping up the tension as the bad guys near the 14th floor, where many of the characters introduced earlier in the movie are all holed up.
Sadly, this intense and thrilling action only features in the last 20 minutes or so and isn’t enough to pull this back from being just a so-so movie, only adding to the overall imbalance of it all.