This Independence Day sees the release of the fourth film in The Purge franchise, The First Purge, which takes us back to the beginning of the carnage. This series has pretty consistently divided critics, with some appreciating its thrills and themes, and some finding them predictable and full of stupid characters making stupid choices. The reviews for The First Purge are now hitting the internet, and it looks like this movie will again be subject to reviews of the mixed variety. For CinemaBlend's own Conner Schwerdtfeger, who gave the film three stars out of five, there is fun to be had with fantastic action and interesting world-building, even if the film's big ideas are undercut by lackluster storytelling. From Conner's review:

The First Purge is arguably the weakest entry in the Purge canon, but it's still a fun action-horror romp that works best when it deepens the mythology of this horrific world.

The mythology of this universe and the genesis of the Purge itself are part of what makes this story interesting and inevitably that leads into the political subtext that has increasingly become a part of the series. Uproxx's Vince Mancini appreciated the the way The First Purge delivers a deeper message, even if the film itself is rather silly.

This incredibly perceptive social commentary often co-exists with ham-fisted shlock. That's not entirely a bad thing, and I sure as hell didn't see it coming.

For many, The First Purge seems to live or die based on how effective the social commentary was for the reviewer. Many of the negative reviews found the film's message heavy-handed and ineffectual. Bloody Disgusting was among this camp, finding the message "consistently undercooked," and worse than that, didn't think the film was entertaining.

Somehow serves as an equal-opportunity offender without managing to entertain anyone.

Along with the political commentary and pulpiness, the thrills that the series is known for as Purgers chase Purgees seem to be intact. Many of the reviews, even some of the negative ones, tease that although it takes a while to get there, the end of the film packs a serious punch and is worth the wait. From The Detroit News:

Director Gerard McMurray stages an effective game of cat and mouse and ramps up to an effective climax.

A common thread among the reviews also seems to be the standout performance of lead Y'Lan Noel as drug kingpin Dmitri. Eric Kohn of IndieWire noted how the latest entry in the Purge series leans more action than horror, and how star Y'Lan Noel from HBO's Insecure is a standout in this environment.

[Y'Lan] Noel has the makings of a genuine blockbuster star -- if the studios will have him. In the meantime, The First Purge gives him just enough material to flex his muscles.

Although the lead is every bit the action hero and the end is a blast, for SlashFilm that simply isn't enough, as the performances don't make up for "the clunkiness of the script". The First Purge is trying to do and be a lot of things, but it all adds up to less than the sum of its parts.

As it turns out, "jack of all trades, master of none" is an adage that works to describe movies just as well as people.

Ultimately, chances are, if you liked the previous Purge films, there's a good chance that you'll like The First Purge. As JoBlo notes, there is fun to be had if you don't take it too seriously.

If you are willing to forgive its flaws, you are likely to enjoy this latest chapter in THE PURGE.

If you're looking for some timely political satire and social commentary, along with a healthy does of hyper-violence and action, or if you're already a fan of the series, you'll probably find a lot to like with The First Purge. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for all the latest in movie reviews and news, and check out our release schedule for everything else hitting theaters this year.

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