[Please note: there are some minor-ish spoilers here, which are actually plot points treated as reveals in the second and third movies, but retconned to be active here.]
The fourth entry in the series, but chronologically the earliest, The First Purge is a 2018 action/horror film directed by Gerard McMurray. Depicting the origins of the Purge, the one night of the year where all crime is legal, including murder, the film stars Y’lan Noel as Dmitri, a drug lord and the ‘big dog’ of Park Hill apartments, where his ex-girlfriend Nya (Lex Scott Davis) and her brother Isiah (Jovian Wade) live.
+ one side character, and arguably secondary antagonist (second only to the politicians in charge as a whole) was compelling enough for me to wonder of their whereabouts in the film. I got my answer, and it was most unsatisfying
– I did not enjoy any of the characters, nor particularly care if any of them lived or died. There was clearly the love for family they all had, but considering all were either drug dealers, gang-bangers or otherwise seemingly jerk-ish people, I can’t say I was given much reason to root for them
– the action is lame, as either style over substance shootouts, or weightless brawls
– the current (as of 2018, the film’s release) political climate is given a lot of not-so-subtle shout-outs, including many that just don’t make sense in the alternate 2014 timeline of the film, where neither Democrats or Republicans are in power
– generally, the plot is treated as ‘politicians want to get rid of the lower classes’ and/or a straight-forward white people versus black people racist agenda, which was treated as a big reveal in the previous (chronologically later) movies. I didn’t much care for this retconning of the story, especially where there was so much black on black violence in this film unaided by the evil white politicians. Basically, they leant too hard on the political aspects which were better treated as undertones in the other movies
> Marisa Tomei (the new Spider-man’s Aunt May) has a small role as one of the statisticians/politicians/whatever in charge of the Purge, but she was almost unrecognisable and unimportant I did not know it was her until reading the cast list to write this review
Should you see this film: Definitely not. Uninteresting characters, cheap thrills and a nonsensical plot are all this film has to offer. The series peaked in the second film, and frankly needs to go back to smaller locations, with smaller casts and more personal stories.