Joivan WadeLex Scott Davis...
Action & AdventureCrime
In 8 Cinemas
Some movies are scary, others are disgusting, and some are just a combination of both, especially those showing what humanity is capable of within the right circumstances. With a scoop of gore from the Saw series and a traumatic utilisation of current events, The First Purge is just raw violence, anger and evil.
The First Purge is a prequel to the previous three Purge films. The film starts with a new party called The New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) who took power from Democrats and Republicans and started an experiment. Based on Psychologist Dr. Updale’s (Marisa Tomei) research, the NFFA chooses Staten Island as an experimental ground to test out the concept of establishing a 12-hour period where all crime is legal; the purge is born. The idea is grounded in a hypothesis that questions people’s psychological need –not want- for violence.
In order to encourage participation, the NFFA pay people to stay home and not leave the island during the purge, and even more money to participate. Through the poor neighbourhoods of Staten Island, we follow rebel Nya (Lex Scott Davis), her young brother Isaiah (Joivan Wade), and her drug gang leader ex-boyfriend Dmitri (Y’lan Noel) as they attempt to survive.
The film is very violent, even more so than the previous films, in a more forward, in your face style so a warning is due for those with faint hearts. The lighting contributed greatly to the scariness of the film, as it provided some dark and terrorising colour hues.
The message behind the violence in The First Purge is not as clear as it should be and is lost between many themes including racial discrimination, class conflicts, politically sanctioned genocide, and the obvious parody of Trump’s administration and traumatic events occurring during his presidency. These shape-shifting themes leave the film’s message and purpose unclear, and in a film with such a heavy political background, having a key message/theme is quite necessary.
Another main issue with this film is the fact that it is a prequel. We already know what is going to happen and that these characters will have to suffer for decades to come through the implemented annual purge and that they will probably not survive. Indeed, to create suspense, a delicate balance must be struck between what the audience do and do not know; this balance was not well maintained as the audience know everything that is to come. This made the character’s survival a lukewarm goal for the audience and made the whole film seem kind of useless.
The acting was an overall B+ with standouts from Lex Scott Davis, as she embraced the bad girl rebel/survivor character. Joivan Wade’s character required him to play a young and frustrated man, and he nailed all these traits with his facial expressions and body language. Y’lan Noel’s portrayal of Dmitri makes him out to be very cool and badass, with a dash of emotion. It must be said here, however, that the success of this character depends much more on the mise en scène than it does on the acting.
If violence entertains you, and you don’t really care about the point of it all, then this film might be for you.