America has been remade into a country that allows crime to be legal during one night of each year (certain people, such as high-ranking politicians, are not allowed as targets — no surprise there).   Supposedly this is to give people a chance to purge their evil ways for one night, and then go back to being good, law abiding citizens for the rest of the year, making for a happier, lower crime America.  “The Purge: Anarchy” shows us what happens to a few people whose lives intersect during one of these Purge nights.

Frank Grillo plays a man who is out for vengeance, but we don’t know against whom and for what reason…until the end of the movie.  Armed with enough firepower to destroy a small town, he drives his armored, Dodge Charger through the dangerous streets and comes upon a mother and daughter who are about to become victims of The Purge.  Reluctantly, Grillo saves the two women and manages to be burdened with two more would-be victims.  The small group of five decide to stick together to give them all a better chance of surviving The Purge, although Grillo — clearly an expert in the art of killing and evading — would rather dump his burden and go off to find whoever he is looking for.

One of my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when an old, sick man sells his life to be a victim of The Purge to a bunch of rich folks too lazy to go out and hunt for victims.   The old man does this in order to relieve his daughter and granddaughter of the burden of caring for him, and to provide enough money for his family so that they won’t have to struggle financially anymore.   Sitting stoically, the old man is surrounded by well-dressed men and women who pray before they begin their purge.  Then the machetes come out.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Purge: Anarchy” is the scene when a neighbor invades the apartment of the mother and daughter who are mentioned above.   For a long time he has wanted the mother, and since the daughter is there too, he says he’s going to get a 2 for 1 special.   Dirty and sweaty and drunk and carrying a shotgun, he goes on a rant about how the mother doesn’t show him any attention and treats him like he’s nothing and now he’s going to show her!  Well, based on his actions, she had good reason to!   Ah, criminals and their twisted logic.

“The Purge: Anarchy” is the sequel to “The Purge.”  Is it better than the first?  In some ways, such as more action, a higher body count, and the introduction of a growing movement of poor people who are ready to fight the government and the “national holiday” of The Purge.  The sequel also makes overtly clear the true nature of The Purge, which is to control the population of the poor, whereas the first movie just hinted at it.  But overall, I believe the original is superior to the sequel.  The original has more shock value simply because it is the first movie with that premise; Ethan Hawke is a better leading man than Frank Grillo; and the level of tension and suspense is much higher in “The Purge.”

Both movies do have their share of shenanigans.  For example, in “Anarchy,” we see a couple driving around the city, far from their home, less than two hours from the start of The Purge.  Are you kidding?  I’d be home hugging my weapons 1 day prior to the start of The Purge!  For some characters, it does make sense for them to still not be at home a few hours away from the start of the carnage.  The mother I keep mentioning of is poor and she needs every cent she can get from her crappy job, so that I can understand.  But the Yuppie couple?  Stupid.  Maybe it’s better if they get killed so that they won’t infect the rest of the world with their stupid genes.   Hmmm…perhaps a Purge holiday isn’t such a bad idea.

— M