The Purge: Anarchy
Sequel to the unexpected smash entertainingly expands on the original's premise
‘Profit-making is not the essence of democracy’ offers one of the more eloquent characters in James DeMonaco’s engagingly blunt sequel to 2013's The Purge, a low-budget sensation which turned a massive profit despite being little more than standard home-invasion fodder. Continuing his own franchise, writer-director DeMonaco expands his scope to focus on an entire city, consumed by chaos, as crime is once again legalised for one night of the year.
Frank Grillo stars as Sergeant, a tough LA policeman who heads out into the night looking to avenge his son’s death, but who ends up protecting four innocent people caught in the frequent bursts of crossfire – including barmaid Eva Sanchez (Carmen Ejogo) and her daughter Cali (Zoë Soul). Their urban journey brings them into conflict with opportunistic rapists, masked motorcycle gangs and government-sanctioned hit squads, with The Purge: Anarchy providing the social context that the first film omitted.
Pitched somewhere between the bread-and-circuses of The Hunger Games and the bloody class-conspiracies of the Hostel franchise, the Purge films share somewhat contradictory elements: a sober distrust of authority and firearms, mixed with a gleeful taste for street-carnage and pumped-up gun-play.
Without a recognisable star this time around (Ethan Hawke does not return – though the lesser known Edwin Hodge reprises his role from the original), DeMonaco wisely casts two highly skilled but often overlooked actors in Grillo and Ejogo, both of whom give striking, hard-bitten performances. And while there are frustrating lapses in plotting and tension, The Purge: Anarchy does whip up some anxiety-inducing moments, most notably a reflective safe-house sojourn that explodes into violence from an unlikely source.
A patchy but proficient enough action movie, The Purge: Anarchy is a welcome expansion of the first film's concept, and shrewdly fills a void as one of the few adult-orientated action films in the family-friendly summer schedule.
General release from Fri 25 Jul.