This movie should have been a lot more fun than The Purge (2013) but somehow wasn’t. The plot of both movies (lifted intact from Star Trek episode “Return of the Archons”) is the same: in the not-too-distant future, smoothly running society has set aside one day a year for people to commit whatever crimes they want, thus releasing all their pent-up hostility and whatnot. The rest of they year they go about their lives normally, while buying up whatever home security systems they can afford, and presumably practicing their marksmanship. The first movie focused on a wealthy family locked up behind an allegedly state of the art security system (Spoiler alert: not so much). This time around we are out on the streets in the general mayhem. Chaos and car chases are usually more fun than home invasions, but The Purge: Anarchy fails to live up to its predecessor.
For one thing, this movie lacks any real stars. Ethan Hawke’s smarmy salesman-of-the-year routine gave the first Purge movie a real kick, which the sequel lacks. The cast this time seems like a group of second-stringers – a guy that looks sort of like Eric Bana, a woman that looks like Jennifer Garner, and so on. The only real standouts are Zoë Soul as the teenage voice of reason, and Michael K. Williams (OMAR!!) as Carmelo, a Spike Lee-esque leader of an opposition movement. The others are completely forgettable.
In addition, Purge 2 steals ideas from better movies – a posh hunting club that goes after humans was done more creepily in the Hostel movies. The campy rich game hostess/announcer was last seen in The Hunger Games (2012). The masked gangsters could have been in The Warriors (1979), or any Mad Max movie.
The first movie was really just a home-invasion movie, but it was done right and was suspenseful as hell. In this movie, the characters careen from disaster to disaster, but there is no real reason to care about them. The surprise ‘reveals’ will be obvious to any attentive viewer. Definitely stay home, lock up tight, and stream a 1980’s B horror movie instead of watching this mess.
Overall Score: 33
Letter Grade: D+