I don't really want to rehash the plot in extreme detail but, basically, Charlie Roan is a female senator running for president and she's up against a guy called Earl Danzinger running for the New Founding Fathers of America (N.F.F.A.) party. Charlie has a bit of a sordid past -' her whole family was killed in front of her on a past purge night 18 years before this movie takes place. They show her giving some fiery speech against the purge, which was full of very common-sense logic. Apparently, she has gained 'too much' support for the N.F.F.A. party -' who are explicitly behind the purge -' to feel comfortable about the upcoming election. So, that being said, somehow on this purge, for the first time, politicians are deemed fair game to be killed (in the past they had been exempt).
That is the main setup to the story -' once the purge starts and Charlie is (very expectantly) chased to be killed by N.F.F.A. croniesmercenaries, she is helped along by Leo Barnes, her head of security. But, I'll be honest - I'm not looking to give a detailed plot in this review, I simply want to give my opinion over some of the plot points and offer my rating.
The set-up to the actual purge night is, firstly, completely laughable. We are talking about an American presidential election here -' one that is, sure, in an alternate universe, but, still, we are talking about a two-party election. To have the N.F.F.A. party simply decide to lift the politician exemption for THIS singular purge is ludicrous. Apparently, we are expected to believe that this party has always won by landslides in the past, or else competing candidates would have essentially always been gunned down on purge nights for getting the opposition too close to actual political power.
Secondly, this film has a very odd sub-plot -' that of the deli owner with his immigrant laborer by his side who is defending his deli from...a few teenage girls with toy guns and (somehow) extremely professional cutting saws to get into the deli. I get that movies can sometimes utilize somewhat absurd sub-plots to propel along the main action but it seems like the whole point of this subplot is to showcase an immigrant worker -' who seems to be the closest embodiment of purity that we get in this movie -' just trying to help out his boss. It may seem like I'm reading into the director's thoughts (this movie was written and directed by the same person) a little bit with that comment but this movie has very clear racial overtones. Not only is the whole N.F.F.A. party shown to be European white in a number of scenes but the whole resistance operation against the purge is led by African- American guys (who have little to no backstory) and, bizarrely, Crip gang members. To top it off, the female senator is chased by a group of mercenaries who sport Nazi symbols on their uniforms -' the sergeantleader even sports a Confederate flag proudly on his shoulder.
Thirdly and on a different note, there actually is very little gore in this film. For a setting in which murder is legal for a day, well, there are maybe a total of 4-5 scenes in which actual killing is going on or happened recently. Although the plot is appreciated in principle for a movie like this, honestly, after a certain point, I think this movie would've really benefited from going all out with the blood and guts. After the first 30-45 minutes, this movie essentially becomes an action thriller in which Charlie Roan is being chased by her enemies.
Not to mention, the character of Earl Danzinger is criminally underdeveloped. Although he is the presidential candidate for the N.F.F.A. party and is more or less the primary antagonist, I couldn't even remember this character's name until I looked up the name on the cast list.
Add in to this that, although Charlie Roan is, on the opposite end, a pretty fleshed out character, still, she's, well, kind of an idiot. The whole pretense of her getting chased through the night and being helped by her security guard is predicated on her stupidity on the actual night of the purge. She decides that it's 'noble' to just stay at her regular old house to wait out the purge with his security detail on hand, which only amounts to a few guards in an open suburb. Even when she's been chased for her life for more than half the film, she insists that the resistance movement she finds NOT go after the N.F.F.A. political party leaders, who are holding some sort of covenant in a Washington D.C. church. Why not? She thinks it isn't the right thing to do -' this coming from a person whose whole family was killed because of the purge and who herself is running from a squad of professional killers right then and there.
I do think this movie has some redeemable qualities, and it was overall well made, but there are too many plot flaws to overlook for the watchful eye. Add in to this the unnecessary politicization of race in a summer-horror franchise and it's difficult to get lost in the story. The writerdirector needs to learn some subtlety in this regard. Also, in comparison to the first film -' which was basically a home- invasion story set around the plot of a purge occurring everywhere -' it seems like there should be some lengthy sequences here showing, well, purging. The characters here are moving out in the open on the actual night of the purge and still we - the audience - are only offered GLIMPSES of what's going on out there.
Review by Paul Yorkshire from the Internet Movie Database.