"The First Purge" takes on social commentary in the worst possible way with it using the lowest hanging fruit.
Set as a prequel to the original Purge film, "The First Purge" finds America’s third political party - the New Founding Fathers of America - taking office and trying the Purge experiment for the first time.
They choose the low-income area of Staten Island in New York City with those that take part in it being given $5 000 if they survive.
Now, this could’ve been a movie that smartly interweaved America’s crumbling political state into a suspense-filled thriller, while giving intelligent commentary.
However, this film reaches low and throws in pop culture references about that tangerine US president so it unintentionally comes over as being a comedy.
It really also surprised in that African-American director Gerard McMurray was fine with the script and character choices for the film, as it portrays every stereotype of black people you can think of, along with using the black experience as torture porn.
The plot holes in this film are also so big that the tears shed by Maria Sharapova’s fans every time Serena Williams beats her wouldn’t have been enough to fill them. This includes characters having full-blown dialogue in a well-lit street in the middle of the Purge with no sense of urgency or threat for their lives.
The main protagonist, Dmitri (Y’lan Noel) also somehow gains the strength of the Black Panther by the end of the film, with him taking on a whole legion of mercenaries and coming out on the other side alive.
Dmitri might be the kingpin of a drug ring on Staten Island and engages in some boxing classes, but we are expected to believe that, through the power of determination and love, he is able to best military-trained murders for hire.
Furthermore, the overall motivation for "The First Purge" is ill-conceived. There’s never a compelling reason given as to why this experiment should take place.
The music is also a hard miss, with the sound design not creating any mood or adding colour to what should be a suspenseful experience.
What really put the nail in the coffin was the fact that when the Purge is done and the survivors come out the other side, they decided to play "Alright, by Kendrick Lamar. Why? I ask you. Why?
This truly is one misshapen film which could’ve held a mirror to the treatment of people of colour in America.
Instead, we are left with something that feels like a half-baked idea and uses social consciousness as a trendy framing device for a lacklustre film.