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Film / The Purge: Election Year

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Uncle Sam won't take "no" for an answer this time.
"We will now purge. We will torture you and violate your flesh. Remove your skin and share in your blood. This is the American way."
Uncle Sam

The Purge: Election Year is the third film in The Purge series. Set in 2040, seventeen years after the previous film, Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) is now head of security for U.S. Senator Charlene Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), who is running for President with a pledge to eliminate the Purge. The New Founding Fathers want to prevent this and plan to have her assassinated on the Purge night before the election.

It was released on July 1, 2016. A trailer can be seen here.

Trope and Purify!

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: During the minister's "Purge Mass", he announces that the members of the NFFA will "sin, scour, sanitize, and sterilize" their souls by purging.
  • Affably Evil: The unseen Purgers manning the Pendulum of Death almost kill Roan and Leo with it, but when they get by it successfully, the Purgers make no further attempts to harm them and even wish them good luck.
  • Amoral Afrikaner: One of the murder tourists arriving in the airport at the beginning of the movie is a white South African. Although since he seems to be traveling with a group of friends that include blacks, he may just be a straight-up psycho rather than the stereotypical prejudiced white Afrikaner.
  • Artistic License – Law:
    • Election Day has been moved from November to May, which would require unprecedented control over all three branches of government by the New Founding Fathers. Of course, the Purge would be even harder to implement, and they managed that, so changing Election Day is small potatoes by comparison.
    • The Purge was passed by Constitutional Amendment (confirmed in promotional materials, plus no other means would be legally feasible). A Constitutional Amendment can only be repealed by another Constitutional Amendment, which requires 2/3 control of Congress and a 3/4 majority of either state legislatures or state ratifying conventions. The President, while having some ability to get creative with interpreting the law, has absolutely no power to repeal a Constitutional Amendment via Executive Action, and attempting to do so would be the most blatant grounds for Impeachment in the history of the Republic. Of course, it's still possible that pragmatism (e.g., the economic and social cons of the Purge having vastly exceeded its pros) and self-preservation (e.g., fear of the resistance simply continuing to exploit the Purge to kill all of its supporters) will persuade enough officials to support Roan's efforts — regardless of party lines — anyway. Furthermore, given the apparent ease with the NFFA change the conditions of the Purge, Roan might be able to hamstring the entire thing with onerous rules.
  • Artistic License – Religion: The minister justifies the NFFA's killing during the purge mass by saying that Jesus died for the sins of others, and the people who are being killed are the martyrs for the NFFA's sins. What the minister conveniently leaves out is that, according to Catholic dogma, Jesus willingly gave his life to free mankind from original sin. Needless to say, the "martyrs" that the minister collects for the mass are anything but willing.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • While most of the NFFA are just corrupt and racist as hell, Minister Owens, their chosen candidate for President, is fucking insane. He is dedicated to the Purge as a means of purification, slaughtering multitudes of victims in his church during a 'Purge Mass' every Purge. When everything is going to hell, Owens is noticeably praying and babbling psychotically while bullets fly around him.
    • Kimmy, the leader of the Teenage Purgers. She tried to kill a man solely because he prevented her from shoplifting earlier and mentions that she'd killed her own parents.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Minister Edwidge Owens, the NFFA candidate for the election, and Caleb Warrens, the leader of the NFFA. Earl Danzinger, leader of the NFFA mercenaries, could also qualify, since he seems to have his own goals and only works for Owens and Warrens to get paid.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Joe and Marcos saving Leo and Roan from a group of Russian Purgers, Laney and Dawn saving the group from Kimmy and her Purgers, and Marcos shooting Warrens in the head just as he is about to slit Roan's throat.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Roan and Barnes both survive, Roan is a shoo-in to win the election and the Purge looks like it will be outlawed, but Dante, Joe and many other innocent people are dead and numerous violent protests are breaking out because of those people who want the Purge to continue, showing that the NFFA have left their mark and it will be a long time before America can get back to "normal." The film ends with an ominous shot of the American flag.
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: The shoplifting girls show up during the Purge wearing bloodstained prom dresses to get revenge for being caught. All of them are killed by Laney, either run down or shot, in a scene played for Black Comedy.
  • Bloodstained Glass Windows: The climax takes place at an NFFA church.
  • The Brute: Danzinger functions as scarily effective muscle for the NFFA, and is the only member of his militia to be able to square off with Leo in a straight one on one.
  • Call-Back: The flowers in the NFFA church are of the same type that James Sandin places on his car dashboard (in the first film) as a show of support for Purge Night.
  • Composite Character: Both the Senator and the Minister seem to be this for contemporary political figures. This is presumably because the primaries were still going on when the film was in production. The Senator seems to be a composite of Hillary Clinton (female Senator with a long history in politics), and Bernie Sanders (independent seen as challenging the political establishment), and the Minister seems to borrow elements of Donald Trump (has apparently never held elected office before running for President) and Ted Cruz (religious zealot).
  • Crazy Cultural Comparison: Evil example, with many Purgers being foreign "murder tourists". They go so far as to wear specialized Purge masks with an American theme, making them look like demonic versions of Uncle Sam, the Statue of Liberty, and Abraham Lincoln.
  • Cruel Mercy: Owens eggs Dante to kill him to participate in the Purge and making him a martyr for it; however, Dante instead spares Owens and Roan beats him in the election at the end of the film.
  • Curbstomp Battle: Leo vs. Danzinger has Leo claim the advantage and utterly crush his opponent despite having been injured earlier that night.
    • Laney shows her Combat Pragmatist skills with one. Seeing the candy girls laying siege to Joe's store, Laney responds by running them over with her armored ambulance before quickly dispatching the survivors with a miniature shotgun.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Considering how comparatively easy it was for Dante's Purge resistance group to rescue Roan, it seems likely that the NFFA didn't fully consider the implications of making it legal to go after government figures as a means of getting rid of Roan, as the NFFA all flee as soon as shots are first fired and their resistance is relatively limited.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Kimmy, the leader of the teenage girl purgers, antagonized Joe's store just because he prevented her from stealing a candy bar. This goes up to eleven on Purge Night as she mentions when she breaks into the store, she will not only take her candy bar but kill everyone in the store and set it ablaze! Did we mention she killed her parents?
  • Dissonant Serenity: Harmon James, Owens' right hand man, rarely registers any emotion and seems almost disturbingly empty, except when he commits the first Purging of the Mass.
  • Don't Create a Martyr: Roan argues against assassinating Owens because it would just make a martyr of them, while her beating him in a fair election sends a much more important message. The other NFFA leaders, on the other hand, lose a few members in the fight to protect Roan.
  • Elite Mooks: Danziger's Neo-Nazi militia, in contrast to the spectacular failure of the Secret Service, give the protagonists the hardest time. They wipe out Roan's entire security detail, wound Leo, and later show up to [[gun down Dante Bishop and his men as they exit the cathedral.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The protagonists ally with the Crips since even they think the NFFA has gone full psycho. Even their initial, scary intro is just them seeking help after their leader's son is badly injured and them asking for the boy to be saved. Though it's questionable how it might have turned out had Joe not been an ex-member and able to get both sides talking.
  • Faceless Mooks: Danzinger's Neo-Nazi army all have their faces covered with shark teeth bandannas and sunglasses. Subverted when a few like Danzinger take them off.
  • False Rape Accusation: The leader of the teenage girl purgers, the day before the Purge, is caught trying to steal a candy bar and threatens to yell rape if the shop keeper lays so much as a hand on her (apparently either not knowing or not caring that she's on the security cameras). She's finally forced to give the candy bar back when confronted by Laney.
  • For Want Of A Nail: Leo is just about to head outside when he notices one of his snipers give the same sarcastic salute to the camera that he had earlier, tipping Leo off that the cameras are looped and giving him the chance to save Senator Roan before the mercenaries make it to her room. If not for one small glance, the bad guys would have won within minutes.
  • Girls Love Chocolate: One of the rampaging girls is participating in the purge just because she is seeking revenge for being denied a candy bar for free.
  • Glasgow Grin: Leo gives one of these to Danziger with a push dagger, right before planting it between his shoulder blades.
  • Government Conspiracy: The New Founding Fathers plot Senator Roan's assassination, even revoking the rule protecting government officials just to get to her. It ends up backfiring on them. May not qualify as a true "conspiracy," however, since revoking the protection was public knowledge, and politicians routinely dress up political maneuvers in egalitarian language everyone can see through.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • In an effort to deflect criticism that the Purge is meant to Kill the Poor, the NFFA removes the restriction on who can be killed during the Purge, rendering themselves fair game. While this is meant to make Roan a target, almost all of them die when rebels see it as a good opportunity to take them out.
    • Invoking this against everyone in charge of the Purge themselves has been the rebels' M.O. since day one.
  • Honor Before Reason: Roan grabs the Idiot Ball several times in the movie to appeal herself to voters. She insists on waiting the Purge out in her not-so-secure brownstone apartment so she appears just like her constituents, ignoring Barnes' advice. Later, she pleads for Owens to be spared, as she believes an honest election will be better received. He double-crosses her quickly, but she proceeds to kick his ass on Election Day.
  • Hypocrite: Zig-zagged with Minister Owens. He insists that he and his congregation aren't hypocrites because they purge, too, but his first victim is a supposed volunteer who obviously isn't as willing as Owens paints him, and all the victims are strapped down so they won't be a threat. However, when Owens is on the wrong end of the purge, he embraces it, showing he does truly believe in the Purge.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • It's debatable if the New Founding Fathers can be seen as this as they revoked the rule that protects them on Purge night just to assassinate Senator Roan. This ends up getting them killed. Although it's possible they bet on their higher security being enough to protect them.
    • One of the obstacles the heroes have to deal with only happens because Leo Barnes, while guarding a presidential candidate, wasn't wearing a bulletproof vest, despite the fact that he had one prepared for Charlie.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Roan says as much after the Resistance captures Owen and prepares to execute him. Dante doesn't really believe her, but he lets Owens go regardless.
  • Karmic Death:
    • Caleb Warrens, Leader of the New Founding Fathers who started the whole mess, is shot in the head by one of the very people he wanted the Purge to eliminate after having revoked his own protection in order to kill Senator Roan.
    • Several Neo-Nazi thugs meet their end courtesy of the Crips.
    • Those foreign Purgers get their wish to participate in the Purge. Except not really the way they wanted when the majority of them are gunned down when they try to torture Roan and Leo.
  • Knife Fight: The final fight is this at one point, with Danzinger using a Ka-BAR and Leo using a small punch dagger.
  • Large Ham: In a story that has no shortage of hammy, over-the-top characters Kimmy BY FAR takes the cake. She's just a candy bar away from LITERALLY chewing the scenery!
  • Leonine Contract: Joe's insurance company raises his Purge coverage rates to unpayable levels the day before the Purge, most likely knowing he can't pay and thus they won't have to cover any damages.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: The Crips gang, who help out the protagonists against the NFFA forces, but most likely because Joe was a former member and they needed help for their leader's injured son.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Like the previous films, Purgers love their masks. There's even a guy selling them, calling the Purge "Halloween for adults." The foreign Purgers go all out with patriotic masks, and one goes the extra mile with a neon-accented Statue of Liberty mask.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: Low-key example. The film opens with Roan, in her late twenties, having to witness her entire family get slaughtered during one Purge night, before cutting to eighteen years later.
  • Monumental Damage: The Lincoln Memorial is vandalized, the word "PURGE" spray-painted on its columns.
  • Mooks: The Secret Service, in contrast to their Real Life Crazy-Prepared reputation, utterly fail their jobs, and are mowed down like fish in a barrel by Leo, Joe, Marcos, and Laney. Even when more of them pour in, they are killed off-screen by a hail of automatic fire courtesy of Dante Bishop and his men.
  • Ms. Fanservice: When the teenage purgers first show up the camera stays a lot on them just walking around in their sexy costumes, with shots focused on their cleavages and butts. Can arguably be considered Fan Disservice as well taking in account the masks and the distorted "Party in the USA" on the background.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: After Laney runs over Candy Girl and her friend, the Purger in a pig costume screams and charges her with a samurai sword, and is promptly shot down.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The NFFA get too involved after they revoke their own rule; many of them don't survive, including Caleb, which ultimately leads to Roan winning in a landslide.
  • No Party Given: Naturally, neither Roan nor her rivals are given any affiliation that is a counterpart of any real ones. Roan is stated to be an Independent, and the Minister seems to represent the NFFA. The debate scene shows another woman on stage with them, but she never gets a line, and is not shown receiving any electoral votes at the end. (It's doubtful any current political party in Real Life would have sided with the New Founding Fathers in the first place.) The ending shows Roan's Electoral Votes in Blue and the Minister's in Red, the usual colors for Democrats and Republicans, respectively; whether this is a veiled subversion or a case of "red = blood" alternate symbolism is unclear.
  • Noble Demon: The Crips. Seriously. They're on the good guys' side, at least for the night, because the heroes save their leader's wounded son.
  • Obviously Evil: Danzinger and his men all wear Neo-Nazi and white supremacist icons while their soldier outfits have shark teeth bandannas.
  • Older Than They Look: Leo's looking pretty considering it's been 17 years since the previous film.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Danzinger's Neo-Nazi mercs might live up to the latter, but don't really say or do anything that lives up to the former. The lack of explicit white supremacist actions becomes REALLY jarring when you consider their main enemies for the night are people of color. Much like the Neo-Nazis in Green Room, their ideology never trespasses symbolism to only make them scarier to the audience. Given that they're mercenaries though, confusing and striking fear into your target works in their favor.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: While Danziger and his mercs work for the NFFA (and may or may not be Neo-Nazis, see The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything), he doesn't appear to hold any particular hatred or personal grudge with the main protagonists or even the senator herself. Even when his men deliver the senator to the church, he urges them to hurry so they can simply wait out the rest of the Purge, rather than participate or even stick around.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: All of them. While the NFFA hates the underclass, they clearly associate this label with African-Americans and Hispanics too and Owen's congregation shows hints of homophobia. Danzinger, head of the mercenaries contracted by the NFFA, also has white power tattoos and wears a Confederate flag patch on his uniform. Roan's allies are mostly minorities and portrayed as good people; Joe (who has pictures of Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass hanging on his wall) is a noble, selfless entrepreneur preyed upon by predatory insurers although he has a past as a Crips member, Marcos is a Mexican immigrant trying to achieve The American Dream through hard work.
  • Rank Up: If Leo was even employed in the last film, he's gone from that to head of security for a U.S. senator.
  • Rasputinian Death: Danzinger is sliced and stabbed multiple times, has his face slashed open and then has Leo plant a knife between his shoulder blades. Then Leo kicks him in the face to make sure when he goes down he stays down.
  • Red Baron: During her time as a gangbanger, Laney was known as La pequeña muerta, Spanish for "The Little Death".
  • Reformed Criminal: Both Laney and Joe are reformed gangbangers (Joe was a member of the Crips), while Marcos is heavily implied to have done whatever he needed to do to survive in Mexico City.
  • Religion of Evil: The religious aspect of the Purge is expanded on here. The NFFA candidate is a minister who holds a Purge Mass to cleanse the souls of his congregation. Although he mentions Jesus at point, he doesn't seem to be a Christian as he refers to Christians with a "they". The religion seems like an inversion of Christianity in a way as Owens notes, by sacrificing others for yourself.
  • Sadistic Choice: In the flashback Cold Open, a Purger forces the mother of a family to pick one other family member to survive after he invades their home and ties them down. It’s shown that this is Roan’s family that is killed while she is left alive, setting her on the path to ending the Purge once and for all.
  • Save This Person, Save the World: The NFFA want Roan dead because she stands a good chance of getting elected President, where she'll be in the right position to abolish The Purge.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Kimmy the shoplifter says that she killed her parents. She doesn't get to live long enough for the consequences to matter.
  • Series Fauxnale: The film has a lot of trappings for a Grand Finale to the series, bringing back characters from the first two movies and the film ending off with the NFFA losing the Election and The Purge being abolished. On top of this, the film after, The First Purge, would end up being a prequel rather than a sequel. However, there would end up being two more movies after this, The Forever Purge in 2021 and an upcoming 6th film.
  • Sequel Hook: We see protests in the midst of Roan’s electoral victory, meaning there are those who wish for the Purge to continue, setting up the next chronological installment, The Forever Purge.
  • Sinister Minister: Owens, Roan's opponent and a mouthpiece for the NFFA, is an insane pastor whose contribution to the Purge includes his midnight "Purge Mass" where he carts out ritual sacrifices before the Virgin Mary and instructs his flock to "Purge and Purify."
  • Sole Survivor: Roan was the only survivor of her family when they got massacred eighteen years ago, because her mother chose to save her.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: One Purger brings his own Purge mix on an iPod, featuring T. Rex's "20th Century Boy" and Parliament's "Give Up the Funk". The schoolgirl Purgers dance to Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA" while threatening the deli.
  • Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred!: Owens gleefully encourages Dante to kill him and participate in the Purge when held at gunpoint. Naturally, Dante refuses to go through with it.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Dante Bishop, the Stranger from the previous two films, is mortally wounded during the last gunfight with the NFFA's paramilitary force.
  • Take That!: The film's marketing is not being subtle in its shots at Donald Trump. The film's tagline, "Keep America Great," is a clear jab at Trump's 2016 campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again." A later trailer says that this Purge trumps them all. (Not to mention that the heroine and Designated Victim here is a blonde, female Presidential candidate.)
  • Taking the Bullet: Joe does this for Roan.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Kimmy and her friends are a group of psychotic teenage purgers who think not being allowed to shoplift a candy bar is justification to burn the store down and murder the owner come Purge night. For bonus points, Kimmy even brags she murdered her own parents. Satisfyingly, she along with her friends gets run over and shotgunned without remorse ironically by her idol.
  • Tempting Fate: Kimmy is just asking to get purged with her constant bragging about she can do what she wants on Purge night especially killing her parents. Laney obliges.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: After killing the Ax-Crazy Kimmy and her schoolgirl friends, Laney says this:
    Laney: La pequeña muerta's back, bitches.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Danzinger and his men all wear Nazi icons and Danzinger has white supremacist tattoos. Interestingly, they don't ever actually do anything explicitly Nazish other than being all white, acting as a regular hired paramilitary force, so it's possible the icons may be around to fuck with targets or to conceal who they actually work for in the event of word getting out about their actions. Regardless, it's very satisfying when two of them are gunned down by the black Crips gang.
  • Time Skip:
  • Tracking Device: The bullets used in the raid on Roan's house have tracking devices. One gets stuck in Leo's shoulder and allows the mercs to track him until they figure it out and use it as a trap.
  • Uncle Sam Wants You: Darkly parodied on the film poster, which shows Sam with an assault rifle and a face resembling a Purger's mask.
  • We Have to Get the Bullet Out!: Justified. Leo gets shot in the shoulder and doesn't try to have it removed until he figures out the kill squad are using it to track them.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Dante Bishop and the resistance fight back against the government by using the Purge to legally target as many high-ranking officials as they can, and plan on eliminating Minister Owens so Roan can win the election unopposed and stop the Purge.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Carmelo. The movie never states exactly what happened to Carmelo in order for Dante to need to step up and take his place as the head of The Resistance. He was mentioned as Dante's predecessor in a news broadcast, but that's about it.
    • NFFA member Donald Talbot, who appeared in Anarchy, is never seen or mentioned in this installment.
  • Worldbuilding: We finally get to figure out what is happening in the world outside of USA in this universe, but it's pretty insidious. Basically, psychos from countries around the world flock to the USA on Purge night to take part in illegal activities. On the bright side, it at least implies the other nations haven't implemented a similar policy.
  • A World Half Full: Roan is elected President and vows to scrap the Purge come the next year. As Marcos and Laney note, however, it's been a long time since the Purge was instated and there will inevitably be opposition to her policy. The film even closes with news about the violence plaguing the polling stations, showing that the path to peace will take time.