What Is America?
Take What’s Yours
The Urge To Purge
Release The Beast
Lovely Dark And Deep
The Giving Time Is Here
I Will Participate
A Nation Reborn
When it comes to missed opportunities, no franchise comes close to The Purge. After a myriad of lacklustre films, The Purge sets its sights on the small screen for a 10 episode stab at delivering a story worthy of its interesting premise. While there are glimmers of brilliance here and some of the world building is better than that seen in the films, ultimately The Purge suffers from a bland, lifeless story stretched out across a series with serious pacing issues and some questionable acting.
For those unaware, The Purge is a fictional holiday in an alternate modern-day timeline that sees all crime legal for 24 hours across America. With crime rates and unemployment at record lows as a result, the nation has fully embraced this bloody holiday. With a 10 episode run time, Amazon Prime’s The Purge series takes place 90 minutes prior to the year’s Purge beginning and continuing through to the end of the night. With three parallel storylines, The Purge splits its focus between different groups of people from different walks of life as they try to survive the night whilst contemplating their own morality in the process.
Much like The Purge: Anarchy that took this same idea and squandered its potential, The Purge series follows suit, showing three different sets of characters as they fail to inspire empathy or conjure up enough excitement to allow us to root for them. The best storyline is frustratingly the one that seems to have the least amount of screen time. Miguel (Gabriel Chavarria) begins Purge night looking for his sister Penelope (Jessica Garza) who’s seemingly been brainwashed by a cult using people as sacrificial lambs for “the greater good”. What transpires is a wild goose chase as Miguel hunts for his sister, gaining help from Pete The Cop (Dominic Fumusa) and encountering a variety of different groups capitalising on the chaotic night.
The second story sees businesswoman Jane (Amanda Warren) spending the night finalising a deal for the company she works for while her boss David (William Baldwin) takes a night off. Disgruntled by the way he takes advantage of her, she organises a hit-woman to take him out on Purge night but soon gets cold feet when she realizes the repercussions this could cause. On her pursuit to go after David, she runs head first into the chaotic anarchists outside and becomes entangled in the various trials and tribulations that the night brings.
The third and final plot presents the upper class, the ones exempt from the carnage ensuing outside, with couple Rick (Colin Woodell) and Jenna (Hannah Emily Anderson) invited to a lavish party watching the Purge take place from the comfort of a heavily guarded mansion. This story plays heavily on the morality of The Purge itself with the couple slowly questioning their own morality as the night progresses and their own situation presents itself.
Unfortunately, a combination of questionable character logic, sloppily handled plot points and a really inconsistent pacing makes The Purge another lacklustre and disappointing entry in a franchise seemingly destined to produce mediocre offerings. It’s a real shame too as this split focus between the three groups helps to broaden out the story but time and time again the story sabotages itself between the glimmers of brilliance. The tension-wracked story with Miguel as he chases after Penelope is quickly followed up by one of the two much slower paced stories making it difficult to really get into a good rhythm with the show.
After 9 episodes (and Miguel STILL searching for Penelope) the pacing consistently swings all over the place and coupled with the lacklustre writing, makes it very unlikely you’ll even care what happens by the time the sun rises and The Purge ends.
We’ve said it before and we’ll continue to say it until we’re suffocated by an anarchist taking part in the Purge. As a limited series and with the right guidance and writing, The Purge is a concept that could be as prolific and impressive as the original Saw movie. There are glimmers of brilliance here and the world building is consistently impressive and suitably chaotic, helped through some decent action and apocalyptic set design. Unfortunately, lacklustre writing, characters and flawed logic make The Purge series another victim of mediocrity in a franchise that seems to fail at every opportunity. It’s a shame but The Purge is a franchise in desperate need of redirection and, well, a Purge to start afresh.
Verdict - 5/10