After the success of 2013’s low-budget horror thriller The Purge, followed the next year by The Purge: Anarchy, it was inevitable that there would be more in this clever, diabolically cynical and violent series of films that are made for modest cost, but produce big returns.

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The Purge: Election Year, a timely title if ever there was one, is the most entertaining of the bunch, and with voter dissatisfaction at an all-time high, you have to think that moviegoers just may be in the mood for a different kind of presidential race than the one that is heating up right now. Who would have guessed that The Purge would provide some of the most exciting political fireworks of the year?

In this version the NFFA (New Founding Fathers Of America) who, in order to reduce crime overall, created the idea of a Purge holiday in which all crime, even murder, would be forgiven if committed during a designated 12-hour period annually, a kind of Halloween for adults as one of the out-of-control crazies calls it. This time it falls during a heated Presidential campaign where the opposing candidate to the NFFA’s leadership, Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) is running on a platform of essentially purging the Purge. During one of these horrid nights her entire family was wiped out, an event that kick-started her activism and led to the Senate. She is determined to not seem weak and decides it would be perfectly safe to stay working during this Purge in her Washington D.C. Senate office which is completely fortified, or so she thinks. NOT.

Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo), a survivor of the second Purge movie, has relocated from L.A. to D.C. to head her security detail and boy is he needed, as an assassination attempt takes place on her thrusting the pair out into the dangerous streets, pursued by NFFA operatives and others. They take refuge in a convenience store far from the Capitol where owner Joe Dixon (Mykelti Williamson)  and his clerk Marcos (Joseph Julian  Soria) are dealing with their own survival against marauding purgers out to invade their space. Joined by Laney (Betty Gabriel), who has a rescue van, the whole group eventually bands together, but as the race through the streets continues, all hell breaks loose and the Senator’s life is squarely on the line, as is the fate of the game-changing election.

Writer/director James DeMonaco has this formula down pat, but the currency of this edition gives it an added value in addition to sharp production quality that belies the low $10 million budget. Grillo is a terrific leading man, making a credible  action hero but not overdoing it. Mitchell is just fine as the Senator, as is Williamson. Ultimately the star of this is really the concept and it makes for a very watchable and durable franchise. Hopefully it doesn’t give the GOP or Democrats any ideas though of purging each other. Things are bad enough. Producers are Jason Blum, Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller and  Sebastien K. Lemercier. Universal releases it today.

Do you plan to see The Purge? Let us know what you think.