The Purge: Anarchy is the sequel to last year’s The Purge with Ethan Hawk and in this film evil is on the streets instead of in and outside a suburban house. The movie carries forward the idea of a U.S. government sanctioning a 12 hour time period of wholescale violence, that includes murder, where everyone participating may “purge” themselves of their “inner beast.
In this iteration of the first film, a small group of disparate strangers wind up together on the murderous streets. Frank Grillo plays Sergeant, a cop, who goes out to avenge his son’s death. Carmen Ejogo and Zoë Soul play mother and daughter Eva Sanchez and Cali, respectively. They are first hunted, then saved and dragged out of their apartment by military-types who are kidnapping the two for some reason.
Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez play a couple who are in the middle of a breakup, Shane and Liz, who get stranded when their sabotaged car breaks down on the way home. Eva, Cali, Liz and Shane are all unwilling participants to the sanctioned activities. Sergeant, gets involved with all four, when he steps in and saves Eva and Cali from the men who are trying to kidnap them.
In the first film, everyone was forced to participate in the night of violence and those who refused were executed. The sequel has the government allowing those who do not wish to create mayhem on the streets to hide behind their closed doors. The act of hiding, however, does not keep them from getting involved in The Purge: Anarchy. Just as in the first movie, the evil on the streets can come into people’s homes and the police cannot be called in to help.
Looking at IMDb, the second iteration of The Purge has benefitted from being a bit more free flowing with its action. The housebound first film has a rating of 5.5 while the sequel has a rating of 7.3. Although despite the somewhat dismal critical response of the first film, it did do very well at the box office.
The second film is also directed and written by James DeMonaco (The Negotiator, Assault on Precinct 13) and the action in the movie is steady and almost non-relenting. It is also, somewhat amazingly, not too gory and the body count is not too high. This may have to do more with the plot rather than any studio requirement.
One of the subplots of the film deals with the idea that the rich suffer from the three C’s: corrupt, cowardly and cruel. This idea is not new by any means. Another film released this year, Snowpiercer has the same message, although not as a subplot.
All the actors do very well in their respective roles. Kudos go out to John Beasley (The Soul Man, Treme) who has a brief spot as Papa Rico and John Conley (Fast & Furious, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay) as Big Daddy. Conley manages to be as menacing as hell by just manning a big gun, wearing shades, a ball cap and what looks like a butcher’s apron.
The film’s cinematography is dark and the sets look very realistic. The city looks like any large metropolitan area with neighborhoods that feel disturbingly familiar. The underground faction who are battling against this government approved cleansing also feel real.
The Purge: Anarchy works well as a action/thriller/horror film with deadly evil on the streets of this not too distant future city. Grillo does a great job as the reluctant hero and the ending of the film is quite satisfying. The movie is playing across theatres in the U.S. from today. One word of warning, do not go to this film expecting something deep and meaningful, it is pure escapist entertainment with a substantial body count.
By Michael Smith
AMC Rainbow Promenade 10