Out of the frying pan and into the fire, they say — but in the case of "The Purge: Anarchy," the frying pan is suburbia, and the fire is the gritty streets of downtown Los Angeles.
The sequel to the Ethan Hawke-starring "The Purge," writer-director James DeMonaco's "Anarchy" hits theaters this weekend, expanding the concept of a govenment-sanctioned once-a-year free-for-all assault on human decency by exchanging the home invasion horror of the original film for a sequel that pours out into the streets. By and large, critics agree that "Anarchy" does better justice to the concept of "The Purge" than the first film in the series — but that doesn't make it a worthwhile film, according to some reviews.
Read on to see what reviewers are saying about the new "Purge" movie:
"One year after the previous Purge, reluctant hero the Sergeant (veteran player of tough guys Frank Grillo) is donning his bulletproof vest and climbing into his homemade armor-plated car and preparing to wreak some vengeance on someone who’s done him wrong. We know he’s hero material because he isn’t wearing ghoul makeup or a freaky mask, but also because he stops to save a mother and daughter (Carmen Ejogo and Zoë Soul) and a bickering young couple (Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez) and becomes their grudging and annoyed leader on a cross-town journey to safety." — Bruce Ingram, The Chicago Sun-Times
The Amusement of "Anarchy"
"While the film is rutted with plot holes, lapses in logic and tin-eared dialogue — the obvious is stated again and again — it falls squarely into a category that used to be called B movies. The jarring action and outlandish premise of a lawless free-for-all are somehow riveting and inane in almost equal measures." — Claudia Puig, USA Today
The Sequel Factor
"'Anarchy' is set in the near future, years after the U.S. has instituted a social policy which decriminalizes murder for 12 hours once a year. Though 'The Purge' struggled to make much of this premise, its sequel finds writer-director DeMonaco bursting with ideas: 'Martyrs' who allow themselves to be killed in exchange for a large pay-off to their families; futuristic Black Panthers who take up arms once a year to defend poor neighborhoods from the marauding rich; street gangs boarding decked-out party buses to cruise through town, shooting everyone they see; the super-wealthy rounding up stragglers and then holding charity-auction-style galas where bidders win the chance to track human prey in a private indoor hunting ground. With every new scene, it feels like as though the characters have wandered into a different high-concept exploitation movie." — Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The A.V. Club
The Ugly News
"If you missed last year’s low-budget horror-thriller hit 'The Purge,' don’t worry about feeling lost with this year’s new, awful 'The Purge: Anarchy.' … The film’s 'What if?' scenario takes the germ of an interesting social-science idea and lets it rot in a nasty, ethically questionable cesspool of junk cinema. The whiff of pulpy sci-fi isn’t enough to hide what is basically ugly, nihilistic stuff meant to whip audiences into a vicarious blood lust. The story’s lazy attempt at condemning man’s darker impulses makes this one long, moral mess." — Jordan Hoffman, New York Daily News
The Final Word
"'The Purge: Anarchy' is a little overstuffed, and its closing moments of melodrama feel unwelcome, like sugar dumped into strong whiskey. But 'The Purge: Anarchy' packs a visceral punch. It's an apocalypse movie in which civilization is still terrifyingly alive." — Rafer Guzmán, Newsday
"The Purge: Anarchy" is in theaters now.