The Purge: Anarchy

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

It is March 21, 2023, hours before the start of the annual Purge. While television programs credit the Purge for record low unemployment and poverty levels, people across the country are preparing either to commit acts of violence or to barricade themselves indoors against the mayhem. Meanwhile, an anti-Purge resistance group intermittently hacks into television programs to broadcast their own messages that challenge the system, stating that the Purge does not cleanse aggression, but rather eliminates the poor from the population.

In futuristic Los Angeles, Eva Sanchez, a waitress, rushes home to her daughter Cali and her terminally ill father Papa Rico. As they prepare to lock down for the evening, Papa Rico slips out of the apartment and into a waiting limo. He leaves behind a note explaining that he sold himself to a wealthy family as a Purge offering in exchange for $100,000 which will be transferred to Eva’s and Cali’s bank accounts following the Purge.

Married couple Shane and Liz are driving to the house of Shane’s sister to wait out the Purge. They stop at a market but when they return to their car, a gang of hoodlums silently taunts them. They quickly drive away, but their car dies just as the Purge begins. They discover that the gang had tampered with the car. The gang reappears, forcing Shane and Liz to flee on foot. Elsewhere, off-duty police sergeant Leo Barnes tells his ex-wife that he must Purge, and goes out into the streets heavily armed.

Eva and Cali watch a truck pull up and disgorge heavily armed paramilitary men. A drunken maintenance man, who felt slighted by Eva in the past, bursts into their apartment intending to assault them both, when the paramilitary men enter, kill him, and abduct Eva and Cali. Leo drives by and, impressed by their attempts to fight back, kills all of the paramilitary men and wounds their leader, Big Daddy. Returning to Leo’s car, they find Shane and Liz hiding in the back seat. Leo tries to kick them out but must take them all when Big Daddy begins firing a Gatling gun at them, though the damage disables his car within a few blocks. When Eva promises that she can get him another car at the apartment of her co-worker, Tanya, Leo agrees to take them there on foot in exchange for Tanya’s car.

The five survive intense street fights against purgers, and they also notice many dead paramilitary men killed by the anti-Purge resistance. When the group reaches Tanya’s apartment, Eva reveals that there is no car. Tanya’s sister, Lorraine, suddenly shoots Tanya for sleeping with Lorraine’s husband. As the group flees, Big Daddy, who has been tracking them through traffic cameras, arrives with more armed guards. The groups evades Big Daddy, only to be captured by the gang that had been pursuing Liz and Shane.

The gang reveals that they were not trying to kill Shane, Eva, Cali, Liz and Leo because they are transporting them to a death chamber where bidders pay to kill them. They deliver the group to a theater where upper-class Purgers bid on the right to kill them. Sent to the chamber, the group is able to kill and drive off the Purgers, but the elite’s security forces swarm the chamber, killing Shane. Anti-Purge resistance fighters, led by Carmelo and Dwayne (who was known simply as “The Stranger” in the first film), storm the compound, shoot the security guards to death and rescue the group, revealing a significant armed revolt. Liz chooses to stay with the resistance fighters to get revenge on people responsible for Shane’s death. Leo, Eva, and Cali take a rich Purger’s car and leave.

Leo finally arrives at the house of Warren Grass, the man who killed Leo’s son while drunk driving a year earlier. Leo attacks Grass and his wife in their bedroom. Leaving the house, Leo is shot and wounded by Big Daddy. Big Daddy reveals that the New Founding Fathers believe that the Purge is not killing off enough of the lower class and have been secretly sending out death squads to increase the body count. He informs Leo of the unwritten rule: do not save people. As Big Daddy is about to kill Leo, Grass — whom Leo forgave and spared — steps out of his house and kills Big Daddy. Eva, Cali, Grass have a standoff with Big Daddy’s death squad when the siren sounds to announce that the 12-hour Purge has concluded. The death squad leaves, while Grass, Eva, and Cali rush Leo to the hospital as emergency services begin the clean up of the Annual Purge.

REVIEW:

What a difference a year makes! I remember watching The Purge and thinking to myself this could never happen. Fast forward to today and we have seen police shoot unarmed individuals, Donald Trump could be on his way to becoming president (which everyone with half a brain knows will not end well for anyone but himself), and everyday on Facebook I read about children or babies being killed by guns. Let’s face it, The Purge: Anarchy might not be that far away, people!

What is this about?

This dark sequel continues the nightmarish vision of the future offered up in The Purge: a chaotic world in which ordinary citizens do their best to survive during an annual 12-hour amnesty when any criminal act can be committed.

What did I like?

Cross the Punisher. There have been 3 movies about The Punisher, appearances in a couple of Spider-Man cartoons, and now we’re about to see him the new season of Daredevil. None of these have done him justice, but Frank Grillo’s character in this film feels like he could be that guy. The cold killing machine, battle hardened look, bad ass muscle car, and of course the coat! The guy would be perfect! As far as his role in tis film, it fits the dark, gritty tone that the filmmakers are trying to achieve. What more can you ask for?

Legacy. I was wondering if they were going to find a way to tie this back to the original and they did find a subtle way to do so. If you will recall the guy that was being pursued and beaten from the last film, you may recognize a familiar face that “…is here to help”. I found that to be a nice touch, even if it is nothing more than a cameo, though I would have liked to have learned more of what happened between films.

Spike X. Of course, there has to be a militant revolutionary who is everything government opposes. In this case, Michael K. Williams is playing a character who seems to be a mixture of 90s Spike Lee and Malcolm X. You would think this would be a sort of hilarious bit of comic relief, but in fact it is a brilliant portrayal. He gets his point across and reminds people how much of an underrated actor he truly is.

What didn’t I like?

Right time to be diverse? I must applaud this film for making the majority of the protagonists non-white. However, let’s take a look at perhaps why they are ethnic. The purge is meant to wipe out the poor. As sad as this statement it is, I must say it. Most of the poor are from non-white ethnic backgrounds. This applies even in the year 2023, apparently. Did the filmmakers need to stick with this “realism”? No, but they chose to. Is that something we should chide them for? No, but I think having the hero being a white guy could raise some eyebrows. Then again, maybe I’m reading too much into this. It is only a movie!

Infidelity shootout. One of the rules of the purge is that all crimes are allowed during the 12 hour window. Ok, that’s fine, but when you’re sheltering people from the purge and decide to turn your personal dirty laundry into a mass murder, that is a problem. Making it an even bigger issue is that this came out of nowhere and doesn’t really do anything to move the story forward. This was just a random killing.

Government sanctioned crime spree. I can’t help but take issue with the fact that this “holiday” is a government sanctioned event to control the population. Surely, there are better ways to do so than random days of crime. I mean, I could be sitting at home minding my business and some breaks in and steals my TV. Can’t report it because it is during the time when most crimes are permitted. WTF?!?

After all is said and done, I have to admit that The Purge: Anarchy worked better than its predecessor. I say that because while the first one focused on a well-off family, this one was more about the normal, blue-collar people. It was just more relatable, I suppose. That isn’t to say this film is not without its faults, but it was at least entertaining. Do I recommend it? Yes, do a double feature with the first film and then watch one of the news stations. You’ll really feel the impact!

4 out of 5 stars

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