“The First Purge” (Universal)
By Catholic News Service
A love of violence for its own sake, a profoundly dishonest attempt to disguise itself as a political allegory and reverse racism characterize this despicable bit of slaughter porn. In presenting the origin story of its wretched franchise, this fourth film in the series, set on Staten Island, focuses on the fortunes of a community activist (Lex Scott Davis), her younger brother (Joivan Wade) and her gang leader ex-boyfriend (Y’lan Noel) during a night when all crimes are to be permitted in the borough as a social experiment.
While the researcher (Marisa Tomei) who masterminded the harebrained project eventually has qualms, all the other white characters in director Gerard McMurray’s flick, scripted by returning screenwriter James DeMonaco, are unredeemable villains in the demise of many of whom the audience is invited to exult, even as the script ultimately turns Noel’s drug-dealing lowlife into a hero. But viewers will have to look past the waves of spurting blood on screen even to notice these details.
Excessive gory and gruesome violence, including a sexual assault, graphic aberrant sexual activity, drug use, brief partial nudity, several profanities, a few milder oaths, pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.