The Purge: Anarchy

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Movie: The Purge: Anarchy
Director: James DeMonaco
Cast: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Zoë Soul, Michael K Williams, Justina Machado, John Beasley, Jack Conley, Noel Gugliemi, Edwin Hodge, Keith Stanfield and Brandon Keener.
Rating: *** ½ (3.5 out of five stars)
Length: 103 minutes
Opening: Now showing

The Plot: The annual ‘Purge’ — a night for which perpetrators of violence and crime, even murder, will not be punishable for 12 hours (7am-7pm). The government of the United States overlooks any act of crime from vandalism to robbery and homicide and renders it “legal”.

A sequel to 2013’s box-office success The Purge, the storyline of The Purge: Anarchy is not related to the former flick, with the exception of one recurring character — an anti-Purge activist Dwayne (played by Edwin Hodge). While essence of the plot — a government that allows mercilessness killing, leaving its citizens helpless — will raise a few eyebrows for its illogicality, one can’t deny that it is somewhat brilliant, and will undoubtedly draw followers, particularly men and those who love the thrill of violence and machinery. After all, who wouldn’t want to take advantage of a night of illegality and violence without any implications from it?

Three characters take the main attention in the flick — struggling waitress Eva Sanchez (played by Carmen Ejogo) who rushes home for a “lock-down” with her family — daughter Cali (Zoë Soul) and critically ill father Papa Rico (John Beasley); the mysterious yet determined Sergeant Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo)  and Liz and Shane — a couple with problems of their own.

Eva and her family prepare to avoid any violent encounter, and hopefully, survive the night while a heavily-armed and skilled in combat Barnes sets out in his car on a mission of revenge. Meanwhile, Liz and Shane (Kiele Sanchez and Zach Gilford respectively) head to Shane’s sister’s home to barricade themselves for the night. While on their way there, they find themselves stranded as their car had been tampered with, and they are forced to flee on foot and fend for their safety.

Unexpected circumstances lead all the main characters to come together to fight for survival. Though annoyed with the group for hindering his path, Barnes nonetheless agrees to protect them for the night, so long as he gets to complete the task he set out to carry. For the next several hours, the gang is faced with numerous near-death situations and narrow escapes.

Despite the countless amounts of blood-splattering moments, there are a few heart-warming scenes throughout an otherwise gory and violent film which may not be suitable for young viewers. Barnes, though he comes across as a hard-headed loner, nonetheless uses his skills and knowledge to protect his fellow survivors from being the target of ruthless and vicious characters they come across in the night.

As expected, there is no romance whatsoever but viewers are showered with grizzly shooting and fighting scenes which really leave no room for passion. Apart from the lead couple, Liz and Shane — who are ironically married in real life — the storyline moves more toward violence, and more often than not, points out the injustice in the system — with The Purge aiming to get rid of poverty-stricken and homeless folks. While some scenes are predictable, expect a few unexpected plot twists and seat-jerking moments — particularly towards the end.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on September 25, 2014.