In a future America where all crime is legal, one night each year a group of people bands together to survive. Rated R for strong disturbing violence and language.
This B-picture may be the sharpest commentary yet on the class rage simmering in America. Tough, angry and funny.
Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford
Last year, James DeMonaco's "The Purge" presented an intriguing idea: What if all crime, even murder, were legal for one night each year? "The Purge" was a simple home-invasion movie, starring Ethan Hawke as a suburban family man, but it came with a satirical, dystopian undercurrent.
DeMonaco's sequel, "The Purge: Anarchy," turns that undercurrent into a tsunami of populist rage, class warfare and racial tension. Maybe it's the dispiriting economy, a national sense of upward immobility or that 700-page Thomas Piketty book proving that only the rich will get richer, but "The Purge: Anarchy" feels like one seriously ticked-off flick. It's better-made than the first -- DeMonaco's writing and directing are much stronger -- and it also has the courage of its convictions.
The year is 2023, and our new hero is Leo (Frank Grillo, of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier"), an icy character looking for vengeance on Purge night. Like so many tough loners, however, Leo has a heart, and soon he's rescued four helpless birds: Eva (Carmen Ejogo) and her teenage daughter, Cali (Zoë Soul), plus the bickering spouses Shane and Liz, played by Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez. If they can make it to a friend's house across Los Angeles (a tall order on any night), they just might survive.
Loosely structured as a series of increasingly dire encounters with humans at their worst, "Anarchy" really does border on anarchy. It's the first movie in years (aside from the period-piece "Django Unchained") to show poor blacks rising up against rich whites in a crimson-splattered fantasy of revolt. Its wealthy villains -- senators and frost-haired matrons straight from the society pages -- are vicious, almost Swiftian grotesqueries. The movie also has a droll sense of humor: Spurned lovers, government thugs and beer-chugging good ol' boys all have their reasons to purge.
"The Purge: Anarchy" is a little overstuffed, and its closing moments of melodrama feel unwelcome, like sugar dumped into strong whiskey. But "The Purge: Anarchy" packs a visceral punch. It's an apocalypse movie in which civilization is still terrifyingly alive.
PLOT In a future America where all crime is legal, one night each year a group of people bands together to survive.
RATING R (strong disturbing violence, and language)
CAST Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford
BOTTOM LINE This B-picture may be the sharpest commentary yet on the class rage simmering in America. Tough, angry and funny.