DIR/WRI: James DeMonaco • PRO: Michael Bay, Jason Blum, Andrew Form, Bradley Fuller , Sebastien Lemercier DOP: Jacques Jouffret • ED: Vince Filippone, Todd E. Miller • DES: Brad Ricker • MUS: Nathan Whitehead • CAST: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zoe Soul, Kiele Sanchez, Zach Gilford
The year is 2023, and the annual “Purge” is about to take place across the USA. All crime is legal from 7pm until the good ol’ morning light of 7am the next day, and it means anyone can grab a gun – or flamethrower or axe or machete – and go out and “purge” themselves.
There are no laws, no consequences and no police or ambulance will come running: this is a “Founding Fathers” America, and you either barricade yourself in your house or you get out there – and Leo (Frank Grillo) is definitely locking and loading for this gunstravaganza. Oh, he has a target in mind.
Not happy to be outside are breaking-up couple Liz and Shane (Sanchez and Gilford) whose car breaks down and leaves them on the streets when the siren sounds. Elsewhere, hard-working waitress Eva and her daughter Cali (Ejogo and Soul) are battening down the hatches – but even then that doesn’t mean that the Purge isn’t coming calling into their happy home.
Outside, there are also huge trucks roaming the streets alongside the masked marauders, bloodthirsty gangs and watchful snipers, and these trucks are packed with army-style teams who seem to have specific targets in mind too, and when Eva and Cali are grabbed, Leo sees – and this time, just can’t “drive away.”
He rescues them both, and soon they collide with the pursued pair of Liz and Shane – and now there are five. Only one of them is really ready for action, but aside from the maniacs, murderers and truckers, there are other forces; a revolutionary group led by Carmelo (Michael K. Williams), who preaches that the people have had enough of wanton murder, and that it’s really the rich who love this deadly annual playground.
For him and his followers, it’s time to take it back. For Leo’s gang, they need to stay alive. Either way, the clock is ticking…
Set the year after The Purge – a 2012 medium-sized hit that had a undeniably interesting premise – The Purge: Anarchy comes to screens as the USA is once again embroiled in a seemingly-endless series of shootings, and certainly initially plays on that travesty well (even if Carmelo and his rebels are way too like the Black Panthers, and the idea that rich=bad and poor=treated like scum could have been twisted like a stiletto, rather than butter knife).
Also, The Purge was more based around an intense domestic attack, and was more frightening and up-close-and-personal. Here though, nearly everything happens outside – a more dangerous place to be. That said, having a group of four strangers and just one leader leads to some unevenness; too often Leo tells the quivering bunch to “wait here” while he takes care of business, and none of them really ever step up to the plate.
That uneven feeling dominates as the story progresses, especially after the midpoint – a good scene where we see that the family home isn’t always the safest place to be – when it gets rather disjointed, turning into a kind of pseudo video game as the group are captured and then auctioned off for hunting by the rich in a kind of fake country estate paintball arena.
Leo does the lion’s share of the work there as well, before he finally gets back to the job in hand. So, despite the protests of idealistic teenager Cali and Eva will he kill, despite having saved? That’s for cinema-goers to find out, though a couple of things are certain: that there will be another “Purge” next year, and that America’s love of guns will keep making this movie seem scarily plausible.
16 (See IFCO for details)
The Purge: Anarchy is released on 25th July 2014