By now, the silly premise of these action thrillers is widely known: One night a year, future America goes completely lawless, encouraging its citizens to commit crimes with impunity. The concept is hard to take seriously (costs of property damage alone would be astronomical), but couldn’t this first sequel at least have had more fun with it? Depressingly uncreative, The Purge: Anarchy follows a band of innocents without a car hunted on the streets, striking a generic tone of urban warfare when dark comedy or revenge would have been more entertaining. (Why isn’t a single mean boss targeted in these movies?) Violence lands with a sickening thud; meanwhile, a “nobody walks in L.A.” joke goes unspoken.
Though the cast is game, the characters are so thin as to be unmemorable. Only a few moments trigger satisfying giggles: the news announcer who hopes that everyone has a “successful cleanse”; a wealthy machete-armed family who pays to have their victim home-delivered like a pizza with extra pepperoni. Mainly, though, this is a humorless film that skimps on the delicious opportunity for spousal retribution. Writer-director James DeMonaco must think he’s making a somber statement about class warfare. Nuh-uh. It’s more like a new Saw franchise flecked with Tea Party anxieties for the dumb-as-dirt crowd.
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