THE PURGE: ANARCHY
By Gary Murray
Starring Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo and Zoe Soul
Written and directed by James DeMonaco
Running time 103 min
MPAA Rating R
Selig Film Rating Matinee
The Purge was a surprise hit from the summer of 2013. The story is of a future where the new American society is safe for 364.5 days. Then for 12 hours all crime including murder is legal. The original flick starred Ethan Hawke and did impressive numbers in the original release and on DVD. The Purge: Anarchy is the sequel.
If one has not seen the original The Purge, it does not matter in seeing The Purge: Anarchy. Though they take place in the same universe, they are totally separate films.
The flick starts in 2023, the year after the first film. There are three different threads that get tied into one coherent story. Eva (Carmen Ejogo) is a waitress getting ready for purge night. She lives in a small apartment supporting her father and her daughter Cali (Zoe Soul). Everyone uses the same phrase, “Stay safe’ when leaving work.
Cali listens to internet broadcasts about how the purge has been invented by the 1% super rich to get rid of the 99%. Groups are planning to attack the rich, all of whom are held-up in high walled compounds. As one of the vigilantes says “There is more of us and we’re pissed off.”
Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez) are a couple on the outs on purge night. As they drive to safety, their car breaks down. The two are stranded in the city with no shelter and no weapons. A gang of hooded masked gang members have been following the couple, waiting for the purge to begin. One of the gang members has “God” written on the forehead of his mask.
Sergeant (Frank Grillo) slips on his bullet-proof vest and checks his weapons. He is also getting ready for purge night, but he is not hiding. He has a vendetta and plans to execute it. In his garage is a super-charged battle ready car looking like something out of The Rod Warrior.
The three meet on purge night when Sergeant saves Eva and Cali from a gang of heavily armed military thugs. It seems that some faction in the government is somehow involved with the purge and they are armed to the teeth. Shane and Liz hop into Sergeant’s car trying to escape the melee. Now, the five are all together and must form a band of brothers in order to get to safety.
The five travel across town, avoiding bad guys and getting into a bunch of fire-fights and circumventing death. During the course of the film, we find that the uber-rich have their own version of the purge where they are the only ones who are safe. But are they really?
One has to take a great deal of ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ when watching The Purge: Anarchy. It is hard to suppose that a society would be calm and gentle for 364.5 days then go ‘bat-crap’ crazy for ½ a day. It almost becomes a point of unexpected humor when the sirens go off and the shooting stops. One feels as if they are watching a reverse of the Pavlov’s Dog experiment.
While most of the cast are just lambs for the slaughter, the performance of Frank Grillo stands out. He plays the stoic warrior in the vein of Gary Cooper in High Noon or Sean Connery in Outland. Sergeant is one of these guys who do not say much and let’s his weapons do the talking. He is our hero as much as he doesn’t want to be a hero…
The film is much more of a thriller than a horror film, much more like The Running Man than Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Really, it felt more like a cross between The Most Dangerous Game and The Warriors. With such an over-the-top premise, one has to just check their brain at the door and enjoy the spectacle. It is much more thrill ride than cinema.
Director James DeMonaco has hit the gold mine with this idea. There is enough here to make a very long series of films with The Purge tag. I would not be surprised if this becomes the next Saw or Final Destination, a franchise for years to come
The Purge: Anarchy will never win any awards but it is a cathartic experience that will please its intended audience. It is much better than the first installment, a solid and strange piece of entertainment.