Academy Award winning actress Marisa Tomei stars in The First Purge. (Universal Pictures image)

Reel Reviews: A cure for anger

We say, “Purge it up, goofballs.”

In The First Purge a new government has formed in America and they conduct an experiment on Staten Island, New York. The experiment, which is given the nickname the purge, will allow and encourage one night of lawlessness, allowing angry citizens to vent their frustrations, be they about life, poverty, oppression, racism or just desperation. The citizens of Staten Island are paid to stay on the island, rather than evacuate for the evening. They are paid bonuses if they purge, committing crimes. The worse the crime, the more money they will make. The government surveilles the events and broadcasts them to the nation on TV. Officials want the event to go off without a problem, so that they can prove that The First Purge is an idea worthy of continuing nationally.

We say, “Purge it up, goofballs.”

TAYLOR: I recently met a young filmmaker in Vernon and have decided to make a short film with him. His name is Bowen O’Brien and I asked him to come along to review The First Purge as, at 14, he is the target audience. Before I let him provide the review, I would just like to say that The First Purge was the first Purge movie that I’ve seen and actually liked. I thought it was exciting. Take it away Bowen.

O’BRIEN: While The First Purge may not be anything special, it manages to stand out from the other Purge films. I think one of the things that made the Purge films hard to connect with was the characters — I wouldn’t feel anything if they died or lived. I was very pleased with The First Purge as it fixed a lot of the problems I had with the prior films along with having a much more interesting plot with thrilling sequences and surprisingly well-done action scenes. Of course it’s not all perfect, it’s still riddled with dumb horror tropes, cheap jump scares and a few really dumb choices made by the characters, and filmmakers. Overall, The First Purge is a fun, flawed, thrilling film with likeable characters that you will probably forget about a week later.

HOWE: Well I was going to see Antman and the Wasp but ended up seeing this also. What I did like about The First Purge was that it had a bit of everything: action, explosions, horror, comedy and just for good measure a teeny tiny bit of romance. Yes the concept is very silly but no more so than other futuristic movies from the past, you just have to remember as you are entering the movie to disengage your brain for the next couple of hours. I will agree with the pair of you and say that out of the three purge films so far this is probably the best of the bunch, but it is still a terrible movie.

TAYLOR: I didn’t think it was terrible at all, I found myself caring for these poor New Yorkers, trying to survive the machinations of an evil government. Surely, part of my suspension of disbelief is the fact that a conman currently lives in the Whitehouse, but also, this film must be well made, at least in terms of character and peril.

O’Brien gives the First Purge, 3 bloody knives out of 5.

Taylor gives it 3 gun firing drones out of 5.

Howe gives it 2 contact lenses out of 5.

— Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon.

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