The Purge: Anarchy: Craig's Viewing Room

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A couple are driving home to their kids when their car runs out of gas just as the Purge commences. Meanwhile, Leo goes out into the streets to get revenge on the man who killed his son, and a mother and daughter run from their home after assailants destroy it. The five people meet up as they attempt to survive the night in Los Angeles.
2.5

“The Purge” takes itself so seriously and throughout you can’t help but wonder why? It straddles a line between violence and social commentary, but the later is never anything more than half-baked clichés. Perhaps the most interesting thing it says is that, yes, congress can actually get lazier. Instead just give the people guns, ammo, and other weapons and let them sort out the unemployment crisis, the housing crisis, and the rising crime rate. If you’re in debt, I think you’re still on your own though.

The second “Purge” film looks at a night in the life of this annual holiday outside the gated community where we learn that it’s really just a way for rich politicians and their equally wealthy funders to “population control” the poor by giving them weapons and allowing them to go nuts. There could be a movie here where the people take up a non-violent resistance in protest against such an asinine and abhorrent holiday. But of course this movie is not that movie.

It’s in sort of the same mold as John Carpenter’s “Escape from New York” in which a handful of nice, mostly bland people have to try to escape large groups of heavily armed sociopaths. They are working class waitress Eva (Carmen Ejogo) and her daughter Cali (Zoe Soul), an idiotic couple named Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez) who chose the day before the purge to take a road trip, and an unknown man (Frank Grillo, who gave a much better performance in last year’s most underrated film “Disconnect”) who doesn’t even tell us his name but clearly has an axe to grind. The man is the most lethal, thus he’s basically our hero, as the group must contend with an armed militia, thugs who still don’t seem to understand they don’t need to wear masks on this night, and rich people who buy the poor and basically set up their own “Hunger Games” facility in their basement.

There’s a podcaster played by Michael K. Williams, sort of a Che Guevara type, who is a big proponent of the poor taking up arms against the rich. He has one cool scene where he basically kicks ass later on and I really wish we had the opportunity to see more of him, if not for the sole reason it would actually encourage the movie to dive into more of the issues that this premise only really ever brushes the surface of. Instead, it’s mostly just gun battles and explosions, fun to watch in small bursts but with characters who don’t matter all that much.