It seems The Purge saga is destined to not live up to its premise. The notion that America would agree to an ‘anything goes’ evening of murder and mayhem in exchange for economic prosperity is quite revolutionary, particularly for a summer movie. The franchise, however, stops short from advocating gun control or denouncing extreme right policies. This half-assed job becomes counterproductive when all kinds of weapons end up on display in almost pornographic fashion.
At least The Purge: Anarchy attempts to expand the universe we were introduced in the first movie. If the original focused on an affluent neighborhood (mostly because of budgetary reasons), the sequel deals with the rest of the population, unable to buy the protection required to survive the night.
The movie follows five characters in distress: A couple stranded in Downtown Los Angeles a.k.a. purge central; a mother and her daughter forced out of their home by overly enthusiastic radicals; and a well-armed and prepared man (Frank Grillo) gunning for the guy who run over his kid. Turns out the vengeful father is not necessarily a bad guy and becomes the protector of the ragtag group as they try to survive the twelve-hour “celebration”.
The Purge: Anarchy is at its best whenever portraying the surreal environment: A Bible spouting woman venting her resentment; One-percenters using their riches to purge with impunity. These moments are few and can be characterized as subtle next to middling action sequences that seem straight from a straight-to-video Steven Seagal romp.
Instead of fleshing up the dystopian environment, this universe-expanding sequel creates new holes at every corner (from an economic perspective, purging makes no sense). Maybe creator-writer-director James DeMonaco could benefit of a second pair of eyes next time.
Two prairie dogs armed to the teeth. The Purge: Anarchy is now playing.