James DeMonaco’s The Purge: Anarchy is almost exactly the movie general audiences had in their head when they became intrigued by the premise of The Purge over a year ago. And intrigued they were. Fascinated, even. The word “purge” has now taken on an additional meaning in our vernacular despite the fact that the first film wasn’t especially memorable, trading in much of its promise in favor of a serviceable home invasion thriller.
But I’m glad that the initial Purge was a hit, because now we have a sequel that so fully embraces the lunacy of its central conceit its almost impossible not to find it just a little bit satisfying. Is it perfect? No. There’s some goofiness here and there (such as a character trying to engage someone she’s never met in a socioeconomic discussion during a gunfight), but Anarchy never rests on its laurels in its attempts to explore the urban jungle of a purge night via three intersecting stories. Bonus? The film is boldly political. Especially for a summer “blockbuster” (even if it only makes $50 million its return on investment will still trump every wide release this season). I’m not comparing this movie to Snowpiercer in the quality department, but if you showed the two films to an objective sociology class they could easily diagnose the United States as an entity grappling with staggering economic inequality issues.
Getting away from the admirable all caps surface text, The Purge: Anarchy knows exactly the right tone to strike. Severe, gory and (this is a compliment) full of silly swagger, the movie marches through the chaotic streets of downtown Los Angeles putting its protagonists (a revenge-bent Frank Grillo chief among them) through the ringer. While there’s a bit too much in the way of convenient circumstance to fully suspend your disbelief, that hardly impinges upon the entertainment factor. Even when the second half of the film’s third act devolves from striking to rote, it’s kind of hard to complain. After all, purging is sometimes a little sloppy.
In pretty much the best of ways, The Purge: Anarchy is exactly the movie you think you’re signing up for when you buy your ticket. If you walk out of it unsatisfied, you might want to reconsider what you were expecting from such a thing.
The Purge: Anarchy is out on Friday, July 18th.