At LAT, "Review: Pulp gets political, and messy, in 'The Purge: Election Year'":
The end is nigh in “The Purge: Election Year.” Not the end of the world as we know it (another apocalypse? Ho-hum), but possibly the end of the Purge itself — that cruel annual rite that, for one night only, allows all Americans to vent their bloodlust in the name of continued national health and prosperity. Pitting a heroic female presidential hopeful against a shadowy cabal of gun-toting one-percenters, this is a crudely opportunistic, engrossingly pulpy extension of a franchise that, as ludicrous as its setup has always been, seems increasingly in step with the violent absurdity of the times. That much is clear from the new movie’s cutthroat political rhetoric, as well as a ghastly scene of a church being peppered with bullets.Keep reading.
An image like that can’t help but give you pause, as it was clearly designed to do. Even more than in the series’ first two films, the writer-director James DeMonaco wields his satirical ideas and topical reference points with a recklessness that similarly informs his murkily shot scenes of knife-to-knife combat and sniper fire. At times the experience of watching “Election Year” is a bit like scanning a few years’ worth of alarming headlines while someone sets off firecrackers under your desk. Black Lives Matter, drone warfare, local protests, home-grown militias, predatory capitalism, the Florida electorate, pop pop, bang bang.
In this frenzied B-thriller context, where thinking too much could easily get you killed, a hit-or-miss approach works better than you might expect. What once seemed like design weaknesses in DeMonaco’s speculative fiction — the willful incoherence of his allegory and the scattershot quality of his satire — now feel like a natural extension of his schlock-and-awe sensibility. He isn’t concocting an alternate reality so much as sending out crazy dispatches from our own, and he knows that a jab doesn’t have to be subtle in order to land...