‘Purge’ sequel less painful than Round 1

Staff writerJuly 18, 2014 

“The Purge: Anarchy” is a small improvement over its predecessor.

UNIVERSAL PICTURES

“The Purge: Anarchy” is one nasty piece of work but not quite as nasty as the picture that spawned it. That movie was “The Purge,” a sinkhole of savagery that became a surprise hit last year.

This year’s model provides an explicit sociopolitical underpinning for the barbarity that’s at the core of the “Purge” premise, which is a small improvement over its predecessor.

In a near future that looks exactly like the present (presumably because of the picture’s budgetary limitations), one night a year is designated for a U.S. government-sanctioned homicidal free-for-all in which all crimes up to and including murder can be committed without punishment. It’s a way to exorcise all manner of bad impulses from the citizenry in one fell swoop and, not incidentally, to trim the population.

If one can buy the concept that murderous rampages can be started and halted instantaneously — when the siren sounds, stop killing one another, people, and I mean right now — then it’s possible to buy what “The Purge: Anarchy” is selling. Otherwise, Houston, we have a problem.

This time around, five people — a whiny married couple (Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez), a mother and daughter (Carmen Ejogo and Zoe Soul), and a heavily armed loner with a score to settle (Frank Grillo) — have the misfortune to find themselves out on the mean streets and are obliged to join forces to avoid being slaughtered by roving marauders.

As they run, hide and, in the case of the married couple, whimper for their lives, writer-director James DeMonaco (who also wrote and directed the original picture) reveals that the purge particularly targets the homeless and minorities. Turns out it’s class warfare that’s being waged out there, and the underclass is fighting back. A revolutionary group under the command of a man named Carmelo (Michael K. Williams of “The Wire”) exhorts the have-nots to rise up. The picture’s principals find themselves caught up in the battling.

Its social commentary gives “Anarchy” considerably more substance than one usually finds in horror movies and routine shoot-’em-ups. But its raging violence is such that it will only truly appeal to fans of hard-core mayhem.

The Purge: Anarchy

H H 1/2 I I

Cast: Frank Grillo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Carmen Ejogo, Michael K. Williams

Director: James DeMonaco

Time: 1:43

Rated: R; strong disturbing violence and language

The Olympian is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service