It's 2023 and the annual Purge returns with the New Founding Fathers, once again allowing citizens to "release the beast." All crime is legal, including murder, for 12 tragic hours. A group of four (a couple and a mother and daughter) are unarmed, anti-purgers caught in the middle of the heat. While they are being hunted, a random man tries to rescue them, but can he be trusted?
Last year, The Purge
was a surprising hit with mostly awful reviews. The film's biggest flaw was an interesting premise succumbing to another generic home invasion thriller. Writer and director James DeManco
must have listened to the critics, because The Purge: Anarchy
cleans ups the flaws of 2013, easily topping the original and is, thus far, the best thriller of the year. The Purge: Anarchy
is no perfect flick, the clunky dialogue is laughable at times and audiences will need an extreme suspension of disbelief. But, for its genre, the movie is a suspenseful joyride with surprisingly witty commentary.
The heart of the The Purge
isn't violence and guns, it's governmental greed. "Purging" isn’t to "release the beast" — it's population control. Every year, the economy benefits from the 12 hours of crime, with the poor suffering the most. In the original, race was never explicitly stated. This time around, the poor, mainly brown folks cannot protect themselves like the rich. "Hunters" go to the "ghetto" to snatch up victims that the rich can torture and kill for a hefty price. Class and race are interestingly tackled with the victims embodying the terror of living through the Purge.
A sign of a good thriller is when you ask yourself: What would I do in that situation? The Purge: Anarchy
leaves you with that eerie feeling long after the movie ends.
The film stars Frank Grillo
as Sergeant, but in the way of Liam Neeson
, he dodges every bullet and solves every catastrophe. He is a trite plot device that viewers have seen a million times on screen — but someone needs to attempt to save the day. The characters you truly root for are Jeffrey Wright
's wife Carmen Ejogo
, who plays Eva Sanchez, a struggling single mother who is caring for her sickly father. Also, Zoë Soul
, who plays Eva's daughter, a quick-mouthed teen who is equally annoying and enjoyable. Soul shined in her role and showed the potential of having a big career beyond thrillers. Plus, Michael K. Williams
stars as Carmelo, a revolutionary who believes purging must end. The strong characters help to mask plot holes and impossible scenarios.
The Purge: Anarchy
is a rare case where the sequel is better than the original. Expect moviegoers to purge their dollars at the box office this weekend.