“Traffic is building rapidly downtown as citizens rush to get home before commencement. If you’re not purging, we advise you to get off the streets as quickly as possible. It’ll soon be a war out there.”
THE PURGE: ANARCHY // And with these words, “This is your Emergency Broadcast System announcing the commencement of the Annual Purge. At the siren, all crime, including murder, will be legal for 12 hours. All emergency services will be suspended. Your government thanks you for your participation,” Universal stumbles upon their next horror franchise revolving around a yearly purging where all crime is legal for one night. Messing with expectations, “The Purge: Anarchy” really is the quintessential embodiment of the old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Subtly, however, is not its strongest suit. In the follow-up to last year’s “The Purge”, starring Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey, Universal and director James DeMonaco prove that they are listening to the fans and giving them what they want. The original was said to be slightly too small scale and did not delve deep enough into the “everything is legal for one night a year” premise. This time around the characters are stuck outside on Purge night and running through the streets of Los Angeles provide a much heartier glimpse at what this world looks like.
Frank Grillo plays the resident hero for the night, Sergeant, who is actually on a much less admirable mission when he comes across the group of people that need his expertise in staying alive. By stepping in to save a mother and her daughter forced into the street, we are given our reoccurring villain in the form of the apron wearing, gatling gun wielding, megalomaniac in the back of a semi-truck’s trailer. Also in need of Sergeant’s help is a couple, Liz (Kiele Sanchez) and Shane (Zach Gilford) whose car conveniently breaks down moments before the start of the Purge and within earshot of several sketchy men wearing painted masks, one of which reads the name “God”. The night’s journey becomes this strange maze-like adventure with carnage and death around every corner. Whether it is the wealthy citizens killing for sport at an auction or an insane woman with a megaphone and a rifle on the roof of a building, DeMonaco does a decent job of defining this world.
Making obvious jabs at the state of gun control in our country, DeMonaco throws subtlety out the window. Also, adding a few more rules into the fray this time, one gets the feeling this franchise could become extremely convoluted as time goes on. Regulating the use of certain weapons and offering a pardon from the Purge for those that have served in the military, one questions who is roaming around upholding these laws. The main reason for these additions is to give the anarchist group, lead by Caremlo Johns (Michael Kenneth Williams), rules to break. Fighting against the Founding Fathers, the governmental group in power that have instated the Purge, DeMonaco sets in motion the dysfunctional dystopian future full of disorder that our cinemas are already packed with. His best bet is to keep this franchise as dark as possible while remaining equally as fresh. With so many doors left to open and using the tagline “An American Tradition,” Universal has created a horror event that can be looked forward to just like the “Saw” franchise and the “Paranormal Activity” franchise that have come to a close.
[Directed by James DeMonaco] [R] [103 min] [18 July 2014]