Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Purge: Anarchy ~ A Review Of A Revolution In the Making

"Blessed be the New Founding Fathers for letting us Purge and cleanse our souls.  Blessed be America, a nation reborn."

E motionally intense and narratively compelling, James DeMonaco takes us on a short odyssey through the streets of Los Angeles.  "The Purge: Anarchy," delves deeper into the politics of The New Founding Fathers of America.  Rather than focusing on one family, director James DeMonaco delivers three sets of character driven stories as seen from the view of life out on the street during the annual Purge.  Frank Grillo ("Captain America: The Winter Soldier," "End of Watch") plays a man out for revenge.  Still in the honeymoon stage of their real-life marriage, husband and wife team, of Zach Gilford ("Friday Night Lights," "The Last Stand") and Kiele Sanchez ("Lost," "A Perfect Getaway," "The Glades," "30 Days of Night: Dark Days") star as a divorcing couple caught out on the streets on the wrong side of town.  Carmen Ejogo ("Sparkle," "Alex Cross ") and Zoe Soul ("Prisoners") play a mother and daughter whose home invasion forces them out onto the streets.  Once again, DeMonaco explores a society where one night a year, anarchy reigns supreme and the population's celebration of death is in both cruel and in artistic ways.  Rated R for strong violence, I cannot say that the violence is gratuitous or not.  Instead, I think the brutality is there is there to show what savagery and motivations lurks beneath the surface of seemingly "normal" human beings.  "The Purge: Anarchy" is a breathtaking one hour and forty-three minutes long.

Welcome to the dystopian future, the year is 2023, and this is the ninth annual Purge and the time is 4:34 pm.  Two hours and thirty-six hours to go before hell on earth begins.  In a coffee shop, two waitresses are saying their goodbyes for the day as the clock winds down.  Eva (Ejogo) is waiting to talk to her boss about an important matter.  Tanya (Justina Machado), on the other hand just wants to get home to her Purge Party.  Shane and Liz (Gilford and Sanchez) are on the way to Shane's sister’s house on the other side of Los Angeles.  They are discussing their relationship and Liz wants to tell her sister in-law that they are divorcing.  Leo Barnes, or A.K.A Sergeant, prepares for battle.  He is out for revenge and he is arming himself to the hilt.  His ex-wife shows up on his doorstep trying to talk him out of murdering the man who drunkenly swerved his car and killed their son, “revenge won't bring him back,” she says.  

"Release the beast!"

Eva arrives at her lower income apartment building.  She is met at the door of her building by Diego (Noel Gugliemi), offering to "protect" Eva for the night.  Yeah, right.  She lives with her sick papa, and her teen-aged daughter Cali (Soul).  She made the sacrifice that night to go to the pharmacy to get medication for her father.  Her dad, Papa Rico (John Beasley) is old and tired.  The cancer has worn him down.  He and Cali, are watching a blog cast from an anti-purge revolutionary that goes by the name of Carmelo, played by Michael K. Williams.  He preaches that the NFFA's true agenda is class genocide.  

As sequels go, I think that "The Purge: Anarchy" is one of the better ones in the horror genre today.  As we saw in the last year's "The Purge," The Sandin's home, with all of its security measures, which James Sandin also sold to his neighbors, were incredibly vulnerable once the home invaders cut power to the house.  This year, instead of looking at the upper middle class, we see the politics of the NFFA from both the very rich, to the lower middle class, and how each of them survive the night.  What we find is that the very rich, afraid to go out on Purge Night, would rather pay people to sacrifice themselves for a sum of money, or they might just hire someone to kidnap their prey.  Don't fool yourself; there is a thin line between what is civilized and what isn't.

Sergeant Leo Barnes, Eva and Cali's, fate collide when Leo, who is on his way to find his Purge victim, finds the two women being kidnapped by uniformed, armed thugs.  Reluctantly, he intervenes, killing the thugs and shooting a man who is in the back of a large semi-truck.  After Liz and Shane's car breaks down, they find that not only was their car sabotaged, they are also being hunted.  Their hunters wear jeans and hoodies and cover their faces with elaborate death masks designed to create fear in their prey.  They ride motorcycles, and travel with a plain white delivery truck.  The two come upon the scene of the rescue and unwittingly climb into the back of the Leo’s custom armored Dodge Charger.  In the back of the large truck where the thugs were taking the two women, is a large 50-caliber machine gun.  Big Daddy (John Conley), the thug's leader, fires up the machine gun and opens fire, not only on the Charger, but also on the motorcycling masked hunters.  At this point, the film takes on a semblance of the 1979 film, "The Warriors," as the group makes its way through town in an effort to find safety, while Leo, still bent on revenge, seeks another car.  

Like some of the gangs in "The Warriors," whose territories the group journeys through, have characters dressed in some fear inspiring costumes and makeup.  Most of those who purge don't speak, but rather glare menacingly and make cryptic gestures while cleansing their souls.  What "The Purge: Anarchy," also teaches is that one never knows who to trust.  For example, Eva tells Leo that her friend Tanya has a car and will let him have it once they get there.  People will do whatever they feel they have to do to survive.  There is no car, as Tanya doesn't even own one.  However, we do get to visit with the rest of her interesting family.  We meet her sister, her brother in-law, and their father.  Unfortunately they arrive when family tensions are about to explode.  As it turns out, even family members cannot be trusted either.  

Another point that DeMonaco wants to make, is that as American's we feel a certain level of entitlement, and that man-made laws are the same as natural laws.  As seen in trailers, are rich people having a good time, as if they were at a celebrity charity auction.  Unfortunately, the truth is actually more horrible.  A point made in the last year's "The Purge," is the matter of choice.  In this film, there are certain characters that harken back to the original as far as acting as na├»ve, but nonetheless, moral compasses to help guide the lead character.  In this case, we are talking about Leo.  

"We have lost our souls to the altar of fear."

Setting up for possibly another sequel, the revolutionary leader Carmelo, not only has much to say about what the government's true intentions are concerning the Purge, he and his followers also take action.  I can see it now on the marquee, 2015's sequel: "The Purge: Revolution." 

What DeMonaco wants to show us, is that we all have a choice, and making the right choices in life, preserves our humanity, and our civilization.  As we saw in "The Purge" when the NFFA regime took (elected) into office they immediately took drastic measures against all crime with severe punishments.  Government statistics show that unemployment is at 1% and crime is at an all-time low, where violence barely exists, except for one night.  The New Founding Fathers of America have elevated the Purge not only a nationalistic ideal, but in essence, that they are a divine entity able to bestow such a privilege upon the American people.  Should we too also question how much we hold sacred our current Constitution?  In doing so, the NFFA created a police state that not only kept crime extremely low, it allowed the population to grow without death by hunger and poverty.  The Purge, as the NFFA promotes, is a night of anarchy meant as a catharsis of all the hate, violence and aggression that people keep pent up inside.  However, is the act of purging really a way for the government to return the balance of power to those who are at the top of food chain and can afford protection, in other words, the rich.

As human beings, we are capable of justifying all sorts of injustices upon our fellow man if we try hard enough.  Simply look at history, the Native Americans, African Americans, the Holocaust, Rwanda, or even further back to the dawn of humankind.  Keep an open mind when watching "The Purge: Anarchy.”  Similar in motive, "The Twilight Zone," or "1984," this type of horror film is meant to challenge our minds and caution us as well.

Look for "The Purge: Anarchy" in theaters July 18, 2014

"Stay Safe!"

Movie Data

Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Year:  2014
Staring: Frank Grillo, Kiele Sanchez, Zach Gilford, Carmen Ejogo Zoe Soul 
Director: James DeMonaco
Producer(s): Michael Bay,Jason Blum,Andrew Form,Bradley Fuller,Sebastien Lemercier
Writer: James DeMonaco
Rating: R
Running Time: 103 minutes
Release Date: 7/18/2014

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