Enter Sergeant! The nameless bodyguard you saw a bit more of in the sequel. AKA Frank Grillo.
He starts the movie plotting revenge - to participate in the Purge with unknown motives... yet when he finally embarks out into the dead of night he runs into four strangers that alter his path. He saves their lives, and they have nowhere to go, so against his vengeful will they go together.
Similar to the other Purge movies - both prequel and sequel, it's a both violent and scary trip they embark on, and though the city streets seem mostly devoid of life there's always someone lurking behind a corner, or a fiery truck blazing by on a backstreet (I loved that part).
The atmosphere is built up masterfully, and the plot the same, with all the coordinated chaos that entails. Only the title is a bit misleading. It doesn't become as big a war zone as it seemed to promise.
I thought the movie might reveal a bit more about what came to be in the next movie too - how the Governor's campaign first started, but it ties in loosely to events of both the previous and the following, and it does this in a good way. It's independent, yet the reoccurring characters and evolving sense of chaos feels like an aspect of continuity between the movies.
I really love everything about these movies, and seeing this one now... this might be my favorite one of the original three. Though maybe I'm just not remembering all the details in the others. As scary as it is a topic relevant to our modern world: in movie form it's all just perfect.
rated 4/5: fo shizzle