The Purge: Anarchy
dir-scr James DeMonaco
prd Michael Bay, Jason Blum, Andrew Form, Bradley Fuller, Sebastien Lemercier
with Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Zoe Soul, Justina Machado, Michael K Williams, Noel G, John Beasley, Jack Conley, Castulo Guerra, Edwin Hodge
release US 18.Jul.14, UK 25.Jul.14
14/US Universal 1h43
The Purge: Anarchy
Bring on the nastiness: Grillo

ejogo gilford machado
See also:
The Purge (2013) The Purge: Election Year (2016)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Purge: Anarchy Filmmaker DeMonaco tells the flip side of last year's sleeper hit thriller, shifting the action from the haves to the have-nots over another night of violent "cleansing". While it's gripping and nasty, this unconnected sequel lacks both the irony and the thematic punch of the original, frightening the audience more with loud noises and grisly violence than with actual suspense.

It's 2023 in Los Angeles, as society indulges in its annual 12 hours of legal lawlessness to get the violence out of the system. But residents of poor neighbourhoods are mere targets for militias hired by wealthy sadists. Eva (Ejogo) is a waitress trying to protect her feisty teen daughter (Soul) when an unnamed tough guy (Grillo) rescues them. Joined by a strained couple (Gilford and Sanchez) whose car broke down, they flee two heavily armed gangs while an underground activist (Williams) calls for the poor to rise up and fight back.

This class warfare gives the film a whiff of a theme, even if it's never developed. It plays out like a lighter, more gratuitously brutal version of The Hunger Games, with the hint of a subplot involving Grillo's desire for revenge against the drunk driver who killed his son. But none of these bigger ideas plays out properly, as each set-piece opts for superficial thrills rather than any sort of unnerving freak-out.

The actors are fine under the circumstances. Each adds plenty of spark, thankfully never descending into corny hysteria or tortured melodrama. And there are some seriously nutty interludes, most notably when the quintet takes refuge in the downtown home of Eva's friend (Machado). This scene gives the film a kick, turning underlying tensions into gonzo mayhem. This is much more effective than the overt nastiness that infuses the film, from threats of rape to being hunted like animals.

Unlike the first movie, this story assumes that everyone has within them the urge to kill at random. Only two or three characters lack this murderous instinct. Even worse, DeMonaco this time seems to be enjoying the carnage far too much, wallowing in the grisliest details, which undermines his attempts to highlight the tragic injustice. On the other hand, fans of gruesome, cheap-tricks cinema will love wallowing in the darker corners of their own urges for 93 minutes. Hopefully that'll be enough for another year.

cert 15 themes, language, strong violence 21.Jul.14

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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall