3 out of 4 stars
Welcome to America, 2025 — and presidential hopeful Charlie Roan wants your vote.
The senator is a strong, beautiful woman with views about how to make America great again. She’s a voice for the disenfranchised, stands up for the poor and minorities and most of all, wants to purge the annual “Purge.”
The Purge, during which all crimes, including murder, are legal for a 12-hour period every March, must be abolished — a stance that has her contending for the presidency. She’s experienced the horror firsthand, having witnessed the murder of her family during the day of death 15 years earlier.
Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) wants to eliminate the Purge like Donald Trump wants to get rid of media outlets who publish want he doesn’t want to read. But here’s Roan’s problem in The Purge: Election Year: The New Founding Fathers of America (the government) will stop at nothing to make sure the Purge remains as American as the Second Amendment, regardless of how much blood gets spilled.
This year, the Fathers have their sights set on Roan, who must pay for her “sins against the state.”
But Roan has a secret weapon: her head of her security, Police Sgt. Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo). He’s the guy who two years ago in The Purge: Anarchy stopped himself during the Purge from carrying out the revenge murder of the man who killed his son in a drunk-driving accident.
It’s up to Barnes to keep Roan alive. Should be easy, right? Just lock Roan in her secure home surrounded by a heavily-armed security detail and wait until dawn. Wrong. Barnes and Roan are deceived into stepping onto the streets of the nation’s capital on the one night when it’s kill or be killed and emergency services have been suspended.
Barnes and Roan run for their lives from maniacs in George Washington and Abraham Lincoln masks wielding machetes, only to see another group of killers on the next block. Death is on every corner. Maybe it will be delivered by the deranged psychopath in a Statue of Liberty mask with a machete or by pack of lingerie-wearing teens with gold-plated assault weapons.
If you haven’t seen either of the two Purge films, imagine a night when people dress up like it’s Halloween and arrive at your home wanting to take your last breath instead of candy.
But The Purge franchise has also killed it at the box office, which is why it was only a matter of time for producer-writer James DeMonaco to crank out the third chapter about the barbaric night. In 2013, Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey starred in The Purge, a film that parlayed its $3 million budget into nearly $90 million at the worldwide box office. A year later, DeMonaco had Barnes save the save the day in The Purge: Anarchy, which turned its $9 million budget into a one of the surprise hits of the summer by amassing nearly $112 million, proving it was just a matter of time before a trilogy was born.
The Purge: Election Year has a slightly higher budget ($10 million). But the beauty of slasher movies is often the most memorable murders are made with creativity, not cash, and sometimes the scariest slayers wear the simplest costumes and don’t need computer-generated imagery.
Seldom is the third installment in a franchise the best, but DeMonaco has found a way to take his sick, depraved formula and tweak it so The Purge: Election Day is better than its predecessors, which is why no matter what happens, it’s one day Hollywood will want to keep on the calendar.
Jon Gallo is an award-winning journalist and editor with 18 years experience, including stints as a staff writer at The Washington Post and sports editor at The Baltimore Examiner. He’s also an editor for CBSSports.com. He’s crossing his fingers the only baseball team in Baltimore that will contend for a title this summer won’t be his fantasy squad, the Catonsville Cartel. He also believes the government should declare federal holidays in honor of the following: the Round of 64 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament; the Friday of the Sweet 16; the Monday after the Super Bowl; and of course, the day after the release of the latest Madden NFL video game.