The First Purge (USA, 2018)

The fourth film of the franchise can be said to be seen first as we learn how the day where crime is legal begins.

With America on the verge of collapse, the New Founding Fathers of America have stepped in and have become successful in winning the Presidency. The new group, with the help of Dr. Updale, creates a day where for 12 hours, all crime would be considered legal. It would become a social experiment that would be known as the Purge. The perfect location is set, and it is Staten Island, New York. People who stay would be paid for compensation but also find themselves at risk of death.

For Nya, it is about making sure community members stay safe within a local church. She warns her younger brother Isaiah to go to Brooklyn, so he doesn’t have to deal with the Purge. Unfortunately, he agreed to be a part of it so he and Nya could live a better life. And even more of a reason, Isaiah is seething with vengeance against Skeletor, a street thug who bullied him constantly. When Dmitri, Nya’s boyfriend and a gang leader, starts to get targeted, things come to a head when the NFFA discovers that there isn’t enough purging going around. So, they take desperate measures to ensure that the Purge works, and it is now up to Dmitri, Nya, and Isaiah to save whoever they can from this new wave of terror.

After the original Purge trilogy, which is set in a world where for one day a year, all crime is legal, a question that could be asked is how did it all begin? Franchise creator James DeMonaco reveals the answer in this prequel what begins as a social experiment becomes the chaos that becomes the heart of this very franchise. We also learn the power the New Founding Fathers of America has unleashed and the measures they do to ensure that the Purge becomes a nationwide event.

The film’s protagonists are two siblings and a benevolent gang leader, who has a relationship of sorts with the sister. While Y’Lan Noel’s Dmitri is the type of character who may seem like an anti-hero, he has a love for the community and that becomes a threat to others who take advantage of the Purge by getting rid of him. Meanwhile, Lex Scott Davis shows a strong character in Nya, who protests the Purge and seeks refuge in a church to help others who are against the experiment.  However, she soon must become headstrong when she learns her brother Isaiah, played by Doom Patrol’s Cyborg, Joivan Wade, gets involved in the Purge with a simple purpose: revenge.

What is interesting about The Purge franchise is that it tends to be marketed as a horror film franchise, but it actually is more of an amplified ultraviolent action thriller film series. There are horror tones to the film, but the film relies on more action with guns blazing, knives slashing, and explosions galore. There is also the issue of how the evil organization known as the New Founding Fathers of America use their authority to ensure the Purge’s success despite opposition from not only the community, but the scientist who came up with the idea in the first place. And that character comes in the form of Dr. Updale, played by Marisa Tomei. Patch Darragh’s NFFA Chief of Staff Sabian is the biggest scumbag of the film and that’s saying something consider one would think the main villain would be Rotimi Paul’s Skeletor, but Sabian is far worse and it is he who makes the decision that changes the game.

The First Purge definitely thrives on ultraviolence as we see how it all began. Y’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, and Joivan Wade give it their all and despite some very bad looking CGI that comes in spurts, this is a pretty decent prequel to the film franchise.

WFG RATING: B-

A Universal Pictures/Blumhouse /Perfect World/Platinum Dunes production. Director: Gerard McMurray. Producers: Jason Blum, Sebastian K. Lemercier, Michael Bay, Andrew Form, and Brad Fuller. Writer: James DeMonaco. Cinematography: Anastas N. Michos. Editing: Jim Page.

Cast: Y’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Mugga, Patch Darragh, Marisa Tomei, Luna Lauren Velez, Kristen Solis, Rotimi Paul, Mo McRae, Jermel Howard, Siya, Christian Robinson, Steve Harris, Derek Basco.

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