The Purge series aren’t the first horror films to mix politics and terror. The best examples are George A. Romero’s films. They’re chock full of underlying political commentary on different things, such as capitalism (Dawn of the Dead), racism (Night of the Living Dead), or chemical warfare (The Crazies). Unlike George A. Romero, James DeMonaco–the writer/director of The Purge films–has never heard of subtlety.
Anarchy begins the same as it’s predecessor. It is the near future and the US is run by the New Founding Fathers. The NFF have enacted a 12 hour period once a year called the Purge where citizens are allowed to do anything they want without any repercussions. Citizens use this time period to “release the beast” and break any laws they want, including murder. There are some basic rules about weapons that aren’t allowed and stuff, but really, anything goes. Since this was put in place, the country is stronger than ever before. Crime has basically been eradicated, the middle class is strong and thriving, the unemployment rates and the poverty line are exceptionally low. But the real reason that the NFF enacted this is far more diabolical. The Purge is an easy way to control the lower class and homeless population.
The film differs from the first in ways that actually make it better. Unlike the original, there are now three main storylines that are brought together by the annual Purge: a skinny version of Manu Bennett who is hellbent on revenge; a single mother and her teenage anti-Purge activist daughter; and a young couple on the verge of separation. (There is also a group of militant activists, lead by the incredible Michael K. Williams, who are beginning a war against the NFF and the 1% purgers–disgustingly rich folks who can afford to BUY poor people so that they can purge from the comfort and safety of their homes.)
The message of the film is very heavy-handed but it is an interesting one. There are plenty of stomach-churning moments. There are also a couple of laughs (probably unintentional, but what can you do?). The ending is very open-ended, there will totally be a sequel. I do feel like this movie did more for the actual Purge law storyline than its predecessor.
2 3/4 stars, because I did really enjoy myself for the most part but it was still insanely dumb and cheesy.