Copyright © 2014 by Universal Pictures
The Purge is a day set where all activities of crimes are deemed legal and sanctioned by the government as a means of population control since for the rest of the year, civilians can live peacefully in a felony-free environment. At the start of purging, a young couple, Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez) are on their way to his sister’s when their car is sabotaged by a group of masked men forcing them to the streets of Los Angeles by foot. They take refuge in Sergeant Leo Barnes’ (Frank Grillo) heavily insulated vehicle after stopping to rescue Eva Sanchez (Carmen Ejogo) and her daughter, Cali (Zoë Soul) from being executed by highly trained and sophisticated paramilitary men. They form an uneasy alliance to leave the dangerous streets after Barnes’ car is damaged from a shootout and survive until the Purge officially ends.
Despite the frosty reception ‘The Purge’ had to endure from critics and moviegoers about an intriguing idea but uneven execution, its healthy financial accumulation was enough to advance a sequel a year later. Conceptualised from James DeMonaco who was tasked with directing duties for both movies, the Ethan Hawke starrer provided a peek into the near future of capitalism governance and the consequences to the division of its society.
In a not too subtle context, the rich will only become wealthier and oblivious to the plight of the less privilege that are incapable of moving up the hierarchy and only seemed destined for terminating each other. Hence, the low crime and employment rates as mentioned early on. The potential DeMonaco could have taken was thus left unfulfilled as he restricted himself to the confinements of a well-to-do family under siege in their technologically-equipped home.
Having noticed the limitations of his 2013 feature, he has assuredly rectified the problems and presented a more politically-charged thriller to satisfy what audiences are looking for in the first place. It helps that the budget is bigger for what we are getting now is a larger view of what really goes on out on the streets when purging commences. Many aspects are still not probed into (a challenge for its shorter screen time) and the carnage could be more brutal without being too neatly packaged.
A little too polished if I may say so considering the use of dim lighting and hues of green and yellow captures the graininess precisely for a somber night. The best aspects come from the tense circumstances when the main characters have to successfully navigate in the middle of a killing spree without getting caught. Each scene is tautly edited for a consistently brisk pacing throughout the course of the show.
And this is just the icing on the cake. What comes after that is pretty shocking but does share elements from an earlier Chris Evans headlined hit, ‘Snowpiercer’. Twists after twists, it will ensure you are hooked right up to its nail-biting ending. Fresh from the heels of ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, Grillo steps up to the plate as leading man material and comfortably shoulders the bulk of the film through a stealthy and strong depiction of a man on a mission.
He is supplemented by an engaging Ejogo whose maternal and caring disposition ensures the chaos surrounding the group does not border on mockery. Together, they form an emotional connection that is relatable and genuine enough for the proceeding events to follow. It leaves with many questions for one to ponder over but if you choose to stay safe and give this a pass, then you might just miss out on a greatly improved work from an already interesting scenario to begin with.
Rated R for strong disturbing violence, and for language