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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “The Purge” sequel: lackluster presentation of lawless society


    Blumhouse Productions: The sequel gives a broader look at a society where crime is legal for a day.

    Though this second film has a much needed broader scope than the original, “The Purge: Anarchy” is a ho-hum entry in this summer season, seen one day and forgotten the next.

    “Anarchy” takes place a year after the first film and, in the U.S. of 2023, the annual Purge (a day where all crime is legal to “cleanse” the urges of citizens for the rest of the year) is still alive and well. It only took less than ten years for the country to go to hell. By that time, hopefully I’ll find myself in a safer country, like North Korea.

    To its credit, the very concept of this sequel finally embraces the full potential of this “Purge” universe. In a country where all crime is legal, we want to take to the streets and get a sweeping look at how various lifestyles and factions embrace or reject the dark urges that society represses 364 days out of the year. Given all of this creative opportunity, the first movie chose to confine us to a single house, wasting all of the potential on a standard home invasion movie.

    In “Anarchy” though, we join three sets of people as they try to navigate the streets of downtown Los Angeles at night. That would be difficult enough without murderous gangs running around (well, more than the normal amount), but it’s the night of the Purge. Eva (Carmen Ejogo) and Cali Sanchez (Zoe Soul) find themselves out in the street after what appears to be the military raided their apartment complex. Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez) are a middle-class couple whose car was sabotaged by the masked gang that has been featured heavily in the promotional material.

    The masked thugs are imposing and cool the first time you see them, but about the fifth time they are filmed in dramatic slow motion, they just come off as forced, like teenagers trying to be too edgy. Like, who writes “God” on their mask? Probably 16-year-old scene kids who stand outside the mall in all black and smoke menthol cigarettes.

    Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) is the only one who actually wants to be out on the streets. Armed to the teeth, he’s determined to find and exact terrible vengeance on the man that killed his son while driving under the influence. He’s pretty efficient with an automatic weapon.

    These five people all come together through coincidence and band together. Well, the other four latch onto Barnes because he’s the one that’s actually got guns.

    As they hug the walls and try to avoid the masked brigade, fishy happenings take place. Why are seemingly military soldiers sacking the apartments of the poor? Why are people being abducted? It’s all revealed, but it’s not that revelatory.

    Though it seems like it’d be a horror movie, I wouldn’t classify it as such. I’m an extremely skittish person and I only jumped twice. OK, maybe three times.
    I guess you’d classify this as a thriller, but the operating word there is “thrill,” and those are few and far between. It’s hard to get engaged when you don’t care.

    The movie attempts to integrate social commentary into the chaos, but it’s pretty elementary and delivered ham-handedly. The American flag is plastered everywhere, as if the movie is screaming, “Look. This is an American flag and this is America now and this is the American dream and it’s evil and dark and violent and humanity is bad.” It’s eye-rollingly blunt. At points, it reminded me of an average undergraduate student film. I’m allowed to say that, because I’m an average undergraduate student filmmaker.

    I haven’t delved much into the characters or the acting, because there’s not a whole lot to delve into. They’re not memorable or complex or likeable.

    There was even a baby in the theater that basically slept through the whole movie. At first, I was taken aback that someone would have the gall to bring a baby to this movie, but, on second thought, I wish I had been that baby, sleeping through the Purge.

    Grade: C-

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