Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Purge: Anarchy – Exactly What We Wanted from the First One

Runtime: 103 minutes
Release Date: July 18, 2014
Rating: R
Director: James DeMonaco

The main problem that myself and a large number of other people had with The Purge is that it was too much of a condensed story. Once a year, everything you can imagine is legal. People roam the streets, attacking, raping, pillaging, and murdering anyone who gets in their way. Instead of showing us that violence, we got a story about one family stuck in a house for the night. The Purge: Anarchy finally gives us what we wanted to see.

Eva is a single mom working as a waitress to support her daughter Cali and her father. On the night of the Purge, she stops by the pharmacy to get her dad his medication. He lectures her about spending money on things they don't need and mentions that the medication doesn't do anything and that he doesn't have much time left. After he tells them he wants to take a nap, he leaves a note on his pillow and sneaks away.

Shane and Liz (Kiele Sanchez, "30 Days of Night: Dark Days") are a married couple on the way to Shane's sister's house. The two are in the middle of separating, and she wants to tell his sister, while he wants to keep it a secret until after the Purge. When they leave a grocery store, a man jumps on the the car (and literally made me jump in my seat) just as a reminder of what's to come. On the way into the city, their car breaks down, and just minutes before the Purge starts, they find themselves stranded and alone.

Sergeant (Frank Grillo, "Mother's Day") is a man mourning the loss of his son one year ago. His ex-wife stops by to check on him and sees pictures of the man who killed his son on the wall. Realizing that he plans to go out, she tries to change his mind, but he tells her to go back to her new husband and leave him alone. He then reveals a souped up car that he made bulletproof just for the night.

Eva and Cali find the note from Papa, which says that he sold himself to a wealthy family for the night. She explains to her daughter that the rich by people to purge for themselves and that they mainly choose those who are sick or desperately in need of money. When a man breaks into their apartment with plans to rape them both, they try to fight back. A large semi pulls up outside and a group of military-looking people climb out.

As the man comes at them, a series of shots ring out and come straight through the walls and windows. Though they try hiding in the closet, two of the military men find them and drag them outside, claiming that they picked them especially for an unknown figure. Sergeant comes down the street at the same time, and though he promises himself not to get involved, he winds up saving the two women. Shane and Cali manage to hide in the backseat of his car, and despite his best wishes, the five decide to work together to get through the night.

I went to the drive-in this weekend to see Lucy and The Purge: Anarchy. While Lucy was fairly blah in my mind, I couldn't tear my eyes away from the screen for this one. Frank Grillo has leading man written all over him, and while I fondly recall him from his days on the soap Guiding Light, it's nice to see him on the big screen. The role of Sergeant almost seems written for him. Though he doesn't talk much, he conveys everything he needs to say with his eyes and facial features.

The movie does a smart job of introducing just enough characters to keep the film moving without bringing in so many stories that we struggle to keep up. Papa, the father of Eva and grandfather of Cali, is probably the only throwaway in the film. He's really only there for us to understand what the rich do during the annual Purge, but after a few lines, he's gone and never mentioned again.

The film delves deeply into the dichotomy between the rich and the poor. The poor find themselves stuck in the city slums with barely any hopes for living through the night, while the rich throw elaborate parties and spend money to kill people, while turning it into a fun event. I won't get into the political side of the film, but trust me, it's there. All I will say is that there's a group on the fringes who believe that the Purge is wrong and they create a viral campaign around bringing an end to the annual event.

My only minor issue with the film is that The Stranger from the first movie makes an appearance in this one. He turns up as one of the fringe fighters and helps our unlucky heroes, and while he makes it clear that he doesn't agree with the Purge because of what he went through before, he's really just a throwaway character. If they wanted to bring him back, they should have given him more than two scenes and a few lines.

The Purge: Anarchy was exactly what most of wanted from the first film. It takes the action outside of one setting and lets us see what happens to people living deep in the city. We see people hiding in the subways, the rich spending their money to kill and maim people just for kicks, the middle class kicking back with wine and music, and how people go to great lengths to make money during the Purge. If you wanted to see more action in The Purge, you'll want to see this one.

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