Friday, July 18, 2014

Movie Review: The Purge: Anarchy

A Frank Grillo-driven follow-up gives audiences more than they got from Ethan Hawke and last year’s flop, but is it enough?

Posted By on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 2:31 PM

click to enlarge the-purge-anarchy-god-face.jpg.jpg

As the last customers file out of a city diner at half past 4 p.m., the wait staff are eager to head home.

A gaunt, broken man silently feeds ammunition into a revolver before checking the rest of his arsenal inside an empty home.

The unhappy couple take comfort in their decision to travel the backroads, avoiding the mess on the freeway.

Around them, everyone is preparing for the Purge.

Eva (Carmen Ejogo), a waitress at the diner, stays behind to ask her boss for a raise — in order to pay for her ailing father’s medications — on the cusp of of the evening when murder is legal. Shane and Liz (Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez) are splitting up, but they disagree over whether or not they should tell his sister; Liz thinks it’s a good idea to spill the beans on the night when there is no law. The darkly haggard man known only as Sergeant (Frank Grillo) is the one mission-driven man heading out after dark during a night of aimless slaughter.

There’s the siren. It’s go time.

Sergeant hits the town in his armor-modded Dodge Charger as snipers take their positions. Masked loners with axes stroll the streets, hunting parties begin their prowl, murderbuses armed to the teeth roam in search of victims, all of them ready to savagely worship at the altar of id and revel in the bloody, government-sanctioned catharsis.

Of course, not all people get their kill on. Shane and Liz just want to get somewhere safe when their car breaks down. Ditto Eva and her daughter, Cali (Zoë Soul), after they’re flushed out of their home. Then there’s activist and intellectual Carmelo (Michael K. Williams), whose anti-Purge movement looks to fight back against what they see as class-based social injustice. As their paths all cross, who will be left alive after the killing concludes?

When last we visited the future America under the New Founding Fathers in The Purge, we got a look at a bad night in for the Sandins, a family of haves who made the mistake of depriving their fellow upper-crusties of hunting down a vagabond for sport. The premise is that this half-day of mayhem helps to quell the baser urges. The Purge: Anarchy offers a glimpse of how things go down outside of the well-armored suburbs during the annual 12-hour window in which anything goes.

Anarchy has a lot more to offer than its predecessor and the end result is a lot better, not that we’re setting the bar too high. Mind you, it’s still not an amazing entry into the American cinematic landscape, but it’s a flick that is both more enjoyable and better made than the original.

If it accomplishes nothing else, The Purge: Anarchy violently shoves Grillo to the front of the line for a potential reboot of Marvel’s The Punisher (with shoe lifts, of course). His quiet, darkly mysterious turn in this splatterfest makes him an obvious favorite to fill Frank Castle’s combat boots. Mind you, he’s still locked down as Captain America villain Crossbones in the Marvel cinematic arena, but any appreciation for the multiverse concept makes that an easy fix.

Aaaand we went full-nerd.

Anyway, if you never saw The Purge and Anarchy looks appealing, hell, check it out. If you hated the first one, the sequel might still hold some interest. Just be sure to purge yourself of the predecessor and you can have a good time.

3 out of 5 starts. 
Rated R. Directed by James DeMonaco. Starring Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, and Zach Gilford. Opens Fri., July 18.

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