'The Purge: Anarchy' is better than the original.
Last year's sleeper hit The Purge was an unusually intelligent thriller starring Ethan Hawke as a security expert whose work is challenged by villains who target him on the one night of the year when laws are suspended and people can express their violent impulses in whatever way they want.
Frank Grillo [R] in 'The Purge: Anarchy'
Set in 2022, the film says that these Purge nights have reduced crime and unemployment by ridding society of undesirables, so the fact that wealthy security-system designer Hawke and his family become the hunted adds a strong irony to the darker political themes.
But of course when the low-budget film became a huge hit, the studio tapped writer-director James DeMonaco for a sequel. The Purge: Anarchy is set one year later, and features at least one cameo from the original cast, but it's otherwise a very different film. Instead of the first film's one-off narrative, this movie feels more like a franchise-starter, taking a far more simplistic approach to the premise by giving everyone on-screen utterly random murderous impulses, except for a handful of heroes the audience can root for (and even they are caught up in thoughts of brutal revenge).
With a solid cast of inexpensive B-list actors, this is the kind of movie series that can run and run, as DeMonaco (or whoever takes over when he gets bored) has endless possibilities for scenarios in which people are chased and killed in increasingly violent ways. The irony may be gone, but there's still a slight hint of the rich-poor divide to give moviegoers a sense of wish-fulfilment and hopefully blow off some steam in the process.