The Purge: Election Year Blu-ray Review
The Purge: Election Year rounds out a trilogy which has gone from strength to strength, delivering a politically-infused thriller leagues ahead of its home invasion horror origins.Although The Purge ended up being quite a narrow affair in terms of scope, it opened up a whole new world of possibilities in terms of its intriguing backdrop - one night a year, anybody can kill anybody, with impunity. The second film, similarly low budget, and without even the relative star power of Ethan Hawke, managed to develop this idea into a thrilling night of survival, headlined by the underrated Frank Grillo (Captain America: Winter Soldier). The Purge: Anarchy was everything fans could have possibly wanted from a low budget second tier sequel to a low budget first entry, and despite the straight-to-video feel to it as a release, it was a significant step up, capitalising on the unusual futuristic political backdrop and delivering some satisfying thrills. Election Year takes things up a notch, with connective material more apparent between this and the second movie than between either and the first, but still a far grander ambition to the narrative.It topically focuses on a Presidential race between a female candidate who would like to end the violence of the Purge, and an almost evangelical male counterpart, pandering to the lowest common denominator public mentality, and hinging his campaign on the cycle of violence that he deems is the God given right courtesy of him and his New Founding Fathers. Grillo thankfully returns to the fore, as a security specialist protecting the frontrunner, and the night makes for some eventful twists and turns, as mercenaries clash with gangs, and the race is on to determine the future of the country. It may still be relatively low budget, but it's an ambitious piece, with lots of topical political commentary set against a socio-economic skeletal structure which is not that far removed from our own. One of the rare trilogies that just gets between with every entry, Election Year delivers a thoroughly satisfying conclusion to what was initially little more than an unusual premise.
Picture QualityUniversal deliver The Purge: Election Year onto UK Region Free Blu-ray, complete with a strong 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1 widescreen.
A good presentation that does its best with the material
Undoubtedly, despite the general consistency of Universal's work, Election Year proved something of an uphill struggle to clean up and make look good on the format, because it's a downright dirty film, steeped in smoke and grit, will scant few opportunities for the capabilities of the format to shine through. There are clear moments, nonetheless, where the spotlight shines on the cast, or we get up-close and personal, and we see the pores and skin texture which we've become accustomed too, and find the rich near-apocalyptic landscape brought to life. Unfortunately there's a price to be paid for the night setting, the encroaching shadows and smoky streets frustrating the image sometimes, leading to variable grain levels and even some hints of crush. Nevertheless it is a good presentation, and it does do its best with the material, with an 8 for effort, and a 7 for end result.
Sound QualityThe Purge: Election Year's accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 delivers more punch than precision on the aural front, but still does a good job with disseminating the key elements.
More punch than precision, but still a good effort
Dialogue remains firmly prioritised across the front and centre channels, rising above the surrounding maelstrom even during the more action-driven sequences. The effects array offers up a hefty, claustrophobic environment - as aforementioned, it's borderline post-apocalyptic - with violence around every corner of every near-deserted street. The city is brimming with chaos and anarchy, and the track never lets that slip by you, obviously igniting the soundstage during the more hectic moments, with thunderous gunfights and explosions ringing out across the array and bringing the LFE channel into play.
The score drifts from insistent and oppressive to actually quite suitable and almost thematic for the material, but again goes in pretty heavy-handed. Nonetheless it's a very good effort, a notch or two below demo standards, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Steelbook ExtrasThe limited extras are still better than nothing
There are a couple of short Featurettes - a six-minute Inside The Purge, which looks behind the production, crafting a solid sequel and fitting conclusion, continuing the narrative, bringing in old and new characters, and staging action, which is unfortunately all too short; and a three-minute look at Frank Grillo's returning character, his arc, and his arsenal - and a selection of Deleted Scenes to round off the disc. They're limited extras, but they're still better than nothing and the UK steelbook offers up quite striking artwork in the form of the Liberty mask and neon face, although the lack of gloss and embossing leave it somewhat lacking in terms of nice extra flourishes. Still, it looks nice alongside the HMV double-steelbook of the first two movies, with the US flag.
Blu-ray VerdictOne of the rare trilogies that just gets better with every entry, Election Year delivers a thoroughly satisfying conclusion
Solid video presentation of problematic source material, strong audio, and a few extras, leave this a decent purchase - particularly in its steelbook form - and particularly if you enjoyed the other two; it's at least on par with the second and arguably the best of the three.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £22.99
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.