When writer/director James DeMonaco’s The Purge came out last year, I really enjoyed the first hour of it. Then came the last 30 minutes and everything went out the window. You know a film is in trouble when the least likeable character is a kid. Let alone the fact that he’s surrounded by a group of numbskull parents and a sister who all act so inane you wonder if the movie started out as a cartoon. Alas, you can’t keep audiences away as it made $89 million worldwide against its miniscule $3 million budget. Now we get The Purge: Anarchy, and DeMonaco still never gets his point across amidst the bloodshed.
By now, you all know that “the purge” is the one night a year when all rules of society are thrown out the window, making the likes of murder legal. One year after the events in the first film, we get a whole new cast of characters. Eva (Carmen Ejogo) works as a waitress who needs a raise to pay for her father Papa Rico’s (John Beasley) medicine. Eva’s militant daughter Cali (Zoe Soul) is enamored with revolutionist Carmelo (Michael K. Williams), who believes that The Purge is a way for the rich to get richer by killing off the less fortunate. Meanwhile, Sergeant (Frank Grillo) is on his way to do his own purging when he winds up saving Eva and Cali from Big Daddy (Jack Conley). At the same time, separating-couple Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez) join them all to find a way to safety amidst the chaos, and well, anarchy.
Instead of letting us get stuck alongside the characters on the worst night of the year, DeMonaco insists on throwing his ideas down your throat. The worst being a high society auction scene that’s right out of Hostel Part III. Another case of idiocy involves Cali pointing out that the truck they’ve stumbled upon has monitors that are linked into government-run traffic cameras while Sergeant mentions that the house they’re trying to get to is a big red block like their own apartment was when they were assaulted by Big Daddy and his crew. Bet you can figure out where both of those two things are headed.
I guess DeMonaco should be given credit for not just simply rehashing his original film, but the fact that it’s “better than the original” comes as faint praise. But he sure does love loud noises to signal where audiences should jump and the time honored tradition of female characters falling down while being pursued. If you like your movies filled to the brim with coincidence and exposition then look no further. The worst part is when very last shot of the film literally threatens us that the next Purge begins in 365 days. We’ve been warned.
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