The Purge: Anarchy takes the idea that was introduced in 2013’s The Purge and rips the roof off of it. The sequel shows how life is outside the wealthy community that was central to the Ethan Hawke-starring hit, and that is largely why it works so well.
In case you haven’t had a chance to watch The Purge online or haven't seen it previously, the concept is wildly original. America had another revolution of sorts and the "New Founding Fathers" established something that has allowed the country to get all its crime out in one night called the Purge. All crime is legal for 12 hours from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. once a year. As such, crime rates are at almost zero and the Purge has worked (so far).
The first film focused on one family in one house. The Purge: Anarchy takes to the streets of Los Angeles and tells three stories that will explosively collide on this wickedly violent night. Frank Grillo is armed to the “T” and set to avenge the death of his son by a drunk driver who got off on a technicality.
Carmen Ejogo is Eva and Zoe Soul plays her daughter, Cali. They live in the poorest of neighborhoods and wind up on the streets through the most unexpected of ways. And lastly, married couple Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez) have the misfortune of having their car break down moments before the Purge begins.
Writer-director James DeMonaco could have just taken a single character and followed their experience on the fateful evening. But he wisely chose the intertwining story route and, as such, the emotional power is heavier and also so is the potential cost in loss of lives.
We pull for these people to make it through the night. The audience knows that the odds of that happening are quite slim. Anarchy could not have been a better subtitle for his second The Purge film and DeMonaco captures it impeccably. It feels as if around every corner is mayhem even more maddening than the previous moment.
And even more powerful still is a wrinkle to his story that you will not see coming in terms of its weight, even though it’s teased in The Purge: Anarchy movie trailer.
Our real world is currently in the midst of a societal divide between rich and poor that grows by the day. In DeMonaco’s world, he shows that the divide still exists and that not only does money bring you safety from the uber-violence of the Purge, but it even allows you to participate in it from a safe distance in the most sick and twisted of ways.
There is also an element that has this series heading into serious franchise territory. A revolution is brewing and if our cast of characters can survive the night and see the sunrise, then next year’s Purge may look different. Then again, as we all know, the more things change, the more they stay the same. And in the world of DeMonaco’s Purge, future installments may just get more pin-pointedly violent before all is said and done.
Our The Purge: Anarchy review has to point out that Grillo makes an announcement with his performance in this picture. This is a journeyman actor who we could not be more thrilled to see anchoring a big-time summer movie like this.
If he isn’t considered for some huge parts after this, that is a bigger crime than anything committed on screen in The Purge: Anarchy.