In “The Purge: Anarchy,” once again, the New Founding Fathers invite America to exercise the rights granted in the 28th amendment and partake of the annual 12 hour period where all crime is legal (even murder –as the audience is repeatedly reminded). For those who missed the first (disappointing) installment of this franchise in 2013, this night of reckoning is intended to be a salvation for the country’s conscience as well as the opportunity to vent pent up aggression. It is known as “the Purge”.
In this somewhat superior sequel, the mayhem spreads along a much larger arena than the original’s home invasion confinement. The Purge: Anarchy delivers where the first film fell flat as widespread PURGING prevails prominently throughout most of the 103 minute movie. The story follows Shane & Liz a couple on the verge of a break up; Eva and her daughter Cali along with a Snake Pliskin-like alpha male, known as “the Sargent” as they try to survive the lawless chaos. While entertaining and heavy with homicide, the gore factor is surprisingly light for its “R” rating. With shallow acting and simple, sometimes predictable story elements, Purge2 still manages to be entertaining and possibly even politically poignant.
Stereo-types portraying the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ aside, the Purge: Anarchy could appear to have a significant statement to make regarding the true meaning of The Purge: As the wealth gap in real-world America approaches levels not seen since the 1920’s, the apparently polarizing elements of the New Founding Founders of America and the ‘resistance’ suggest Universal might have something to say regarding that very ‘wealth gap.’
Ultimately “The Purge: Anarchy” is a satisfying movie, despite its not-so-stellar acting. It does portray the chaos of a crime-encouraged society well, making audiences fear for what might lie around each corner all while doubting the intentions of each and every character.
As a footnote, there are some tie-ins to theme experiences to be found with this film. Last year, Blumhouse assembled The Purge: Fear the Night, a Halloween time attraction in Los Angeles that thrust visitors into a story set somewhere between the two films. And a key scene in the new movie takes place in a setting extremely similar to one from that attraction – a sense of deja vu for anyone who experienced it.
An interesting revelation might also be found in the final image of the film, after the credits roll. Many elements in “The Purge: Anarchy” could easily lend themselves to another possible purpose: Halloween Horror Nights. Universal has already used the franchise as a scare zone in Hollywood. Now “The Purge: Anarchy” could set up a themed maze or new scare zone – or even both. There are ample wildly insane characters and suspenseful moments that would translate well to the event. And that closing image shown after the movie’s credits is not for Universal’s movie studios, but rather their Parks and Resorts division. The same happened at the end of “Despicable Me 2” and, well, the Minions are causing plenty of mayhem at Universal’s parks now too.
“The Purge: Anarchy” hits theaters today, July 18, 2014.