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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

The Purge: Anarchy | Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zoe Soul, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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The Purge: Anarchy | Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zoe Soul, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez | Review

Whether mass chaos or societal catharsis, the NFFA (New Founding Fathers of America) sanction their sixth purge in 2023, an annual 12-hour orgy of violence and mayhem.  The government green-lights this bloodbath so that the country can continue to enjoy record lows in crime and unemployment the rest of the year.  That’s the official position anyway.

From 7:00 p.m., March 21 to 7:30 a.m., March 22, the population is divided between those who purge and those who take shelter.  When a series of events (home invasion, car breakdown) leaves four people (Carmen Ejogo, Zoe Soul, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez) vulnerable to street savagery, an avenging angel (Frank Grillo) takes them all under his heavily armed wing for a seemingly endless cat-and-mouse game with a host of sadistic murderers who, any other day of the year, would act as considerate neighbors, co-workers, and civilized citizens.

A militant group violently (is there any other way?) opposes the purge and the NFFA calling the practice a government-sanctioned annihilation of poor people.  They’re out roaming the streets, too, which begs the question:  How do you know when you meet the enemy if everyone is out for blood?  Other questions follow, but are not answered here.

How the quintet manages to survive downtown L.A. (which could stand for Loud Atrocities) makes for a very turbulent, bullet, fire, and machete-filled 104 minutes that somehow feels like a lot longer.  Bad dialogue and even worse decisions force the viewer into the same dire consequences as the characters who make them.

Writer/director James DeMonaco (The Purge) returns to helm the second installment of the franchise that began with the sleeper hit of summer 2013, proving that there is a market for bloodlust and penalty-free crime among the current American population.  Scary, isn’t it?

The first film highlighted a rich, sheltered family hiding in their fortress of a mansion until a breach brings the Purge into their living room.  This installment follows characters that have no shelter, literally running for their lives through the streets, attracting the attention of big game hunters who see them as nothing more than prey.

While The Purge: Anarchy does pose some provocative questions about socioeconomic differences between the haves and have-nots, its heavy-handed pummeling of the subject matter garners no catharsis for the audience, just a series of swift kicks from tense to terrifying to shrill that exhaust instead of enlighten.  A weak, almost anti-climactic ending, serves as a contrast to the bedlam that came before it.
Like it or not, March 21 will come again.


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