James DeMonaco's THE PURGE had an intriguing premise: in a near future, weirdly neocon utopian America, citizens are allowed to go on a twelve-hour, consequence-free crime spree at a predetermined time of the year. But many found this juicy premise undermined by a certain lack of real ideas on screen, with a low budget limiting the movie to the story of a single home under siege. The premise's built-in social commentary was set aside, many felt, to craft yet another home invasion horror-thriller.
The new sequel, THE PURGE: ANARCHY, finds DeMonaco working a bit more confidently on a much larger canvas, setting up three different plot threads that collide on the streets of Los Angeles with the Purge well under way. A married couple run for their lives after their car breaks down just as the Purge is starting; and a mother and daughter are dragged from their home by faceless soldiers for some sinister but unknown purpose. All of these characters suddenly fall in with a taciturn man (known only as Sergeant, played with deep reservoirs of wounded masculinity by Frank Grillo) who's clearly Purging with a mission in mind. This is a summer sequel with a rare, angry social conscience, mindful of the human and social costs of the violent carnage it depicts.