"Wait – did anyone actually bring food to barbecue or are we just gonna burn this vehicle?!" Weapon-wielding thugs celebrate their right to do whatever they want in the 12 hours anything goes in America in a scene from writer/director James DeMonaco's follow-up thriller THE PURGE: ANARCHY. Credit: Justin Lubin/Universal Pictures © 2014 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved. 

KEY CAST MEMBERS: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Zoë Soul, Noel Gugliemi, John Beasley, Michael K. Williams and Jack Conley

WRITER(S): James DeMonaco

DIRECTOR(S): James DeMonaco


60 SECOND PLOT SYNOPSIS (OR AS CLOSE TO IT AS ONE CAN TRY TO MAKE): The sequel to last summer's surprise hit, The Purge: Anarchy once again focuses on what has become a new annual tradition. Set in 2023, nine years have passed since the group known as the New Founding Fathers of America (or NFFA for those who like acronyms) is carrying on its tradition of, for one 12 hours time span in March, making all crime – including murder – legal in the United States. This has brought a reduction of crime, unemployment and various other social ills with just one catch.

That catch in case you missed it earlier being that once the alarm goes off, murder is not only legal, it's arguably encouraged.

This is bad news for Liz (Jennifer Garner doppelgänger Kiele Sanchez) and Shane (Zach Gilford), a couple on the literal verge of breaking up ... Until their car breaks down in the middle of downtown, a.k.a prime purging territory. Meanwhile, Eva (Carmen Ejogo) is hoping she and her daughter Cali (Zoë Soul) and her ailing father Rico (John Beasley) will be safe in their apartment building. While Rico and Eva actively hate the purge, Cali is more in tune to listening to the ideas of Carmelo (Michael K. Williams), a revolutionary who is ready to stick it to the NFFA and all of their followers for, as he sees it, their annual war on the poor that is the purge.

Taking an active role in this year's festivities, however, is Leo (Frank Grillo), a man with a plan to fully garner his revenge on a man in a photo who was let off from a crime on an unknown technicality. But once this year's purge causes Leo and everyone else's lives to intersect, the proceedings become quite interesting indeed ...

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST?: People who enjoyed the first film (for any variety of reasons), those who enjoy action thrillers that are not as predictable as one would be inclined to think at first glance, people who like watching "survive the night" films like The Running Man, etc.

WHO WON'T – OR SHOULDN'T – LIKE THIS FILM?: People who didn't like the first film, people who fear the film may inspire copycat behavior in the general public and/or one day lawmakers, those who do not enjoy watching people be ruthless to one another in any general sense

BOTTOM LINE – IS IT GOOD, GREAT, BAD OR DOWNRIGHT AWFUL? Much like the first film, The Purge: Anarchy is entertaining ... Although after two rounds, it's probably not necessary for writer/director James DeMonaco to bring us a third.

WHAT'S GOOD (OR BAD) ABOUT IT? The Purge is a film that benefits from an inherently interesting premise: What would happen/what would you do/how will people survive a time period where there is no one coming to help you and not only is no one coming to help you, murdering you (as long as it's not a class four weapon or higher, for what that's worth) is legal and encouraged. Fortunately, the cast of Anarchy also makes the film worth watching due to a solid delivery of performances led by Grillo in particular, who does his best to evoke the resolve of an 80s action hero with the brooding coolness of a modern era superhero.To his credit, DeMonaco shifts this focus of Anarchy await from a family trying to avoid people coming inside to a group of people on the run out in the open, upping the sequel's survival stakes. Additionally, the violence is kept to a visual minimum where more is implied than explicitly shown. (Make no mistake, however – there is going to be blood.) Of course, if you are opposed to any of this violence in the first place, you should skip the film (and its predecessor) altogether. 

Where the film loses a bit of steam, however, is when Anarchy gets into his underdeveloped "the rich are evil/the government is evil" premise which could have given the film a stronger and perhaps more socially relevant/thought provoking as it seems DeMonaco would like it to be. Throw in Michael K. Williams doing what comes off like an imitation of Samuel L. Jackson in well, anything, and Anarchy doesn't have the steam to be more than an action thriller. If there is to be a third Purge film, it's going to have to do more than simply increase its body count and keep people on the run. Otherwise it's going to veer into Saw sequel territory where they are just made because they can and lose more and more of their edge.

But as an action thriller, the movie does a good job at unnerving and entertaining you ... And as long as you're not too entertained by it all, feel free to enjoy your right to purge via The Purge: Anarchy's cinematic catharsis.



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