TribLIVE

| AandE

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Review: 'Purge' sequel gets it all out of our systems

Universal Pictures
Keith Stanfield in 'The Purge: Anarchy'

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

‘The Purge: Anarchy'

1⁄2

R

Wide release

Pittsburgher movie quiz for yunz

Is 'Birdman' star Michael Keaton the best actor with western Pennsylvania ties? Click here to play the Trib's tongue-in-cheek attempt to find out.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Roger Moore
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 8:55 p.m.
 

The clever conceit behind James DeMonaco's 2013 sleeper hit “The Purge” was not that American society had resolved its crime/inequality/population problems with an annual free-pass-for-murder “purge.” It was that this hell night came home to roost on isolated, gated suburbanites, ostensibly liberal people above this annual bloodletting, immune to its impact, but benefiting and even profiting from the mayhem — until it invades their community and their homes.

“The Purge: Anarchy” abandons that sly and disturbing message for a straightforward quest — people trapped outside when the annual “release the beast” commences, people who fall in with a bloody-minded man, bent on vengeance. It's preachier, more diverse in its casting. All of which make it more specific and limit it. Throw in generally lackluster performances and illogical plot twists, and “Anarchy” is seriously crippled.

It goes wrong right from the start, with the title. Years into this annual purge, it's become widely accepted. Anarchic? No. There are organized gangs, piling into armored school buses, 'roid-raging skinheads and tractor-trailers full of jackbooted thugs. Images of the Rwandan genocide, or of packs of gun nuts toting their semiautomatic weapons through discount stores come to mind.

“Stay safe,” everybody says, but most don't mean it.

A black revolutionary with the basketball hog-friendly name Carmelo (Michael K. Williams) is preaching against the purge, calling it a racist way the rich and powerful use to cull the minority population.

But all waitress Eva (Carmen Ejogo) wants to do is keep her daughter (Zoe Soul) safe for the night and her aged dad (John Beasley) out of trouble. Then, trouble blows down their door.

Liz (Kiele Sanchez) and Shane (Zach Gilford) are a bickering couple who only want to finish their shopping and drive home. But their car is sabotaged, and when darkness hits, black kids in whiteface with machetes and machine guns are after them.

One scowling stranger (Frank Grillo) has armed himself to the teeth, armored his Dodge Charger and set out for revenge this night. But these people in jeopardy fall into his path and interfere with his plans.

“Purge 2” is more overtly about race and class as our mixed group of five tries to make its way to the safety of dawn (when The Purge ends) without getting slaughtered by a mysterious “army” or murderous oligarchs or black revolutionaries. It's closer to a sermon. And it's very close to being an utter bore.

DeMonaco, who has written thrillers such as “The Negotiator,” plainly was given this sequel order as a rush job and the lack of polish shows. Characters act against their self-interest as well as their morals. They stop to bicker in deadly situations and clumsily act as if they've read the dull, tin-eared script and know they aren't in danger in this sequence, so they can chatter and traipse through this alley or down that subway tunnel without a care in the world.

To a one, they're blase, only summoning rage or terror once or twice in the third act. We don't care for any one of them, and Grillo plays his hard-hearted killer with barely a hint of wit or heart.

That reduces the film to a first-person shooter video game with a dose of politics added. Maybe that's the only way to experience “Anarchy,” with the viewer doing the shooting. Let's hope DeMonaco has a piece of the spin-off game action, because “The Purge” has pretty much run its course as a violent big-screen social satire.

Roger Moore reviews movies for McClatchy News Service.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Movies

  1. Kennywood’s 4-D Theater adds senses of touch, smell to moviegoing experience
  2. Review: ‘Vacation’ is a funny homage to its predecessor
  3. Pittsburgh company Elite Casino Events got its shot in ‘Southpaw’
  4. Review: ‘Paper Towns’ hits all the right John Hughes-inspired notes
  5. Review: Dimwitted ‘Pixels’ falls apart before it begins
  6. Review: A pugilist parable of transformation in ‘Southpaw’
  7. Fuqua, Gyllenhaal trained side-by-side for Pittsburgh-shot ‘Southpaw’
  8. Online viewing of previews boosts movie trailer-makers