The Purge: Election Year

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Purge: Election Year Movie Poster Image
Third violent Purge is more political but not very smart.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 105 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 17 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 35 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Addresses politics and political ideals in very broad, basic strokes, which could lead to some discussions. One politician tries to protect the interests of the "common people" by abolishing the purge, while rich and religious people try to keep it going, seemingly to protect their own power.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The movie centers on a female senator who's running for president; her ideals and strength come through even in the midst of the terrible violence. And a good-hearted man does his part in taking care of neighborhood kids and people who need help. Plenty of other characters do terrible things/voice very problematic opinions.


Extremely strong violence. Guns and shooting, many dead bodies, much blood spilled. Characters are shot in the head; blood spurts. Moving vehicles smash into people. A man digs a bullet out of his shoulder. Characters are tied up and toyed with. Character beheaded via guillotine. Burning bodies. People hanged in a tree. Jump-scares. Car crashes.


Teen girls wearing lingerie are objectified (the camera looks them up and down).


Extremely strong language, with multiple uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "c---sucker," "c--t," "s--t," "b---h," "t-ts," "p---y," "balls," "ass," etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Incidental drinking. Main characters drink beer.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Purge: Election Year is the third in the series (after The Purge and The Purge: Anarchy). Like the others, it's extremely gory and violent (though perhaps slightly less so): There's guns and shooting, spurting blood, dead bodies, car crashes, and a man digging a bullet out of his shoulder. A character is beheaded via guillotine, and people are hanged in a tree. Language is also very strong, with multiple uses of "f--k," "c--t," "p---y," and more. There's some incidental drinking, and teen girls are shown wearing lingerie, with the camera "looking" them up and down, objectifying them. Like the other Purge movies, this one offers a pretty shallow take on an interesting idea, and though it switches from psychological themes to political ones, it doesn't get any deeper. Nevertheless, the movie could get older teens discussing the ideals and actions of the "left" vs. the "right."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBluntTruth July 2, 2016

A bad excuse for a movie.

I only went and saw this because my friend paid for our tickets and she wanted to see it for her birthday, but I am disappointed that we even paid to watch this... Continue reading
Parent of a 15-year-old Written byGamefreakDad July 1, 2016

Wasn't a terrible movie

Was an ok movie for young teens if they can handle jump scares,Violence, and lots of bad language that movie is fine for them but if they're parents don... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byMovie_Expert1 September 28, 2016

Violent, yet has a lot of discussion points

The film, while very violent and bloody, has a lot of controversial subject matter that might be able to start a discussion. The whole point of the film is to... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byManOfMidNights July 9, 2016

Very Entertaining If You're Into That Kind Of Stuff

I saw this movie on opening night with my parents, and we all were pretty satisfied. Unlike some, we took this movie from a fantasy perspective and didn't... Continue reading

What's the story?

Having survived The Purge: Anarchy, the tough guy known only as "sergeant" (Frank Grillo) is back for THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR. He's now working as head of security for Senator Charlene Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), who's running for president with the promise that she'll shut down the "purge" (i.e. an annual 12-hour period in which all crime is legal). Of course everything goes wrong, and the established "New Founding Fathers" come after both her and the sergeant. Joe (Mykelti Williamson), the proud but struggling owner of a convenience store, and his two hard-luck-case helpers, Marcos (Joseph Julian Soria) and Laney (Betty Gabriel), happen to be on hand and agree to help. But no one is prepared for what the powerful politicians have in mind for that night.

Is it any good?

When The Purge movies started, they played vaguely with psychological ideas; this time around, the themes have turned political, but irritatingly simplistic. Poor filmmaking choices don't help. Writer/director James DeMonaco may have raised some viewers' hopes by featuring a female senator running for president, but while Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) is idealistic, she has little more to say than "the purge is bad" and that it targets the lower class. Then, oddly, The Purge: Election Year shows mainly these same people participating in the purge.

In essence, DeMonaco's so-called political satire and political statements are shallow and unsupported and aren't really any different than any social media rant. And on the technical side, DeMonaco doesn't seem to have learned anything after making the two previous films. The acting is overcooked, and the camerawork and editing are atrocious, resulting in a jerky, wretched-looking film that makes you want to bathe afterward.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Purge: Election Year's violence. What point is it trying to make? Does the movie celebrate or condemn violence? How does it make you feel? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How would you describe the movie's political position? What do the two opposing political forces want? How do these ideas/themes apply to real life?

  • What's the movie's stance on the concept of "the purge"? What are the arguments for or against it?

  • Is the movie scary? Is the scary stuff supernatural or based on real life? What's the appeal of horror movies?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love horror

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