Grisly Sequel Chronicles Another Struggle To Survive Annual One-Day War Of Attrition
Dateline:America, 2023. It’s now nine years since the country voted the New Founders of America into power. High on that elitist political party’s agenda was designating March 21 as the Purge, a day on which all law is suspended, meaning anything goes, rape, robbery, even murder.
Most citizens opt to stay inside for the duration of the annual ordeal, battening down the hatches with a Bible or a weapon in hand, since they can’t call upon the cops to come to their assistance in the event of an emergency. Yet, many turn vigilante to rid the streets of the dregs of humanity, others seize on the opportunity to even the score with someone they have a grievance against.
A couple of hours before the “fun” starts, we find Eva (Carmen Ejogo) rushing home from her job at a diner to be with her teen daughter,Cali(Zoe Soul). In the process, the attractive waitress ignores the crude passes of both a co-worker (Nicholas Gonzalez) and her apartment building’s custodian (Noel Gugliemi).
Elsewhere, Liz (Kiele Sanchez) and Shane (Zach Gilford) are driving to his sister’s while debating about whether to inform her that their marriage is on the rocks. But the two soon land in desperate straits when their car conks out on the highway only minutes before the siren sounds signaling the beginning of the Purge.
That moment can’t come soon enough for revenge-minded Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) who’s itching to get even with the drunk driver (Brandon Keener) that not only killed his son, but got off scot-free on a legal technicality. However, soon after the Purge starts, the police sergeant reflexively comes to the assistance of Eva,Cali, Liz and Shane, all of whom are on the run from a bloodthirsty death squad.
So, he puts his plan on the backburner temporarily to protect the frightened foursome. That endeavor proves easier said than done in The Purge: Anarchy, a stereotypical horror sequel in that it ups the ante in terms of violence, body count, pyrotechnics and gratuitous gore.
Unfortunately, the film pales in comparison to the original, which was a thought-provoking thriller raising questions about poverty and privilege. This relatively-simplistic installment pays lip service to that intriguing theme in almost insulting fashion, envisioning instead a nihilistic U.S. which has merely degenerated into a decadent dystopia where bloodthirsty rich snobs relish slaying the poor purely for sport.
It is, thus, no surprise to witness the rise of an African-American guerilla leader (Michael K. Williams) who’s exhorting the masses to revolt by indicting the Purge as racist. An entertaining enough, if incoherent, splatterfest which unapologetically lifts familiar elements from such apocalyptic classics as TheHunger Games (2012), V For Vendetta (2006), The Warriors (1979), Escape FromNew York (1981) and Hard Target (1993).
A perhaps prophetic satire celebrating senseless slaughter as a natural national holiday in such a gun-loving country!
Good (2 stars)
Running time: 103 minutes
Shades Of Taken Abound in Gruesome Nicolas Cage Vigilante Vehicle
In recent years, Nicolas Cage has made a lot of mediocre movies, and Rage is no exception. This B-movie action flick might be best thought of as an unapologetic rip-off of the Liam Neeson vigilante vehicle Taken.
But where Neeson was a retired CIA agent, Cage plays a reformed ex-con. And while the former was frantically searching for his missing daughter, the latter is looking for whoever fired a fatal bullet into the head of his daughter. As for the villains, Taken’s were Albanian sex traffickers while Rage’s are Russian mobsters.
Otherwise, the stories are similar enough to warrant a comparison. At the point of departure we find Paul Maguire (Cage) and his trophy wife, Vanessa (Rachel Nichols), bidding his sweet 16-year-old (Aubrey Peeples) adieu for the evening as they head out to dinner at a local restaurant. The overprotective father makes a point of impressing upon Caitlin’s boyfriend, Mike (Max Fowler), that he doesn’t want any hanky-panky on the premises in his absence.
However, what actually transpires proves to be far worse than anything he imagined, for he gets a call from Detective St. John (Danny Glover) informing him of a break-in back at the house. Turns out that Caitlin’s been kidnapped and, based on the clues supplied by Mike, Paul suspects that her abductors might be the same ruthless Russian gang he’d had the temerity to rip off 19 years earlier.
Sadly, her lifeless body is soon discovered, and all the evidence points to the posse’s kingpin, Chernov (Pasha D. Lychnikoff). So, rather than let the police solve the crime, Paul opts to take the law into his own hands, and rounds up a couple of his tough buddies (Max Ryan and Michael McGrady) before embarking on a revenge-fueled reign of terror armed to the teeth.
Gritty and gruesome, Rage is an unapologetic splatterfest featuring pyrotechnics, pistol-whipping, stabbing and slow-motion senseless slaughter murders via sawed-off shotgun. The body count gets pretty high en route to the protagonists’ surprising showdown with Chernov, a barrel-chested Vladimir Putin lookalike.
Think Taken with a heckuva twist!
Good (2 stars)
Running time: 98 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening July 25, 2014
And So It Goes (PG-13 for sexual references and drug use) Romantic comedy revolving around a narcissistic realtor (Michael Douglas) who enlists the help of his carefree next door neighbor (Diane Keaton) when the nine-year-old granddaughter (Sterling Jerins) he never knew existed is suddenly dropped at his doorstep. With Frankie Valli, Yaya DaCosta, Annie Parisse and Austin Lysy.
Hercules (PG-13 for sensuality, pervasive violence, partial nudity and brief profanity) Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson follows in the footsteps of Ferrigno, Schwarzenegger and Reeves as the latest incarnation of the Greek legend. This episode, set in 1400 B.C., finds the muscle-bound demigod and five faithful companions hired by the King of Thrace (John Hurt) and his daughter (Irina Shayk) to subdue a tyrannical warlord. With Rebecca Ferguson, Ian McShane and Joseph Fiennes.
Lucy (R for sexuality, disturbing images and graphic violence) Scarlett Johansson stars in the title role of this sci-fi adventure, set inTaipei, as an unwilling drug mule who morphs into a merciless, revenge-minded warrior after inadvertently developing superhuman powers. Cast includes Morgan Freeman, Analeigh Tipton and Min-sik Choi.
Magic In The Moonlight (PG-13 for smoking and a suggestive comment) Woody Allen wrote and directed this comedy, set on the French Riviera in the Roaring Twenties, revolving around a British illusionist (Colin Firth) hired to expose a conniving clairvoyant (Emma Stone) staying at the estate of a wealthy family. Ensemble cast includes Hamish Linklater, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver and Eileen Atkins.
Cannibal (Unrated) Romantic thriller about a serial killer (Antonio de la Torre) who feels no remorse about devouring his victims until he falls in love with the sister (Olimpia Melinte) of his last meal. With Maria Alfonsa Rosso,Florin Fildan and Manolo Solo. (In Romanian and Spanish with subtitles)
The Fluffy Movie (PG-13 for suggestive material and sexual references) Concert flick, shot on stage in San Jose earlier this year, featuring the standup act of Chicano comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias.
Happy Christmas (R for profanity, drug use and sexuality) Mumblecore maven Joe Swanberg wrote, directed and co-stars in this Windy City dramedy about a slacker (Anna Kendrick) who moves in with her filmmaker big brother (Swanberg), his novelist wife (Melanie Lynskey) and their two-year-old son. WithLena Dunham and Mark Webber.
The Kill Team (Unrated) Whistleblower documentary examining the fallout visited upon U.S. Army Private Adam Winfield after he snitched on fellow soldiers who were slaying innocent Afghan civilians and saving some of their body parts as trophies.
A Master Builder (Unrated) Oscar-winner Jonathan Demme (for Silence of the Lambs) directed this screen version of the Henrik Ibsen play about an architect (Wallace Shawn) with a very jealous wife (Julie Hagerty) who finds himself seduced by a flirtatious houseguest (Lisa Joyce) he’d propositioned a decade earlier when she was only 14. Supporting cast includes Larry Pine, Andre Gregory and Jeff Biehl.
A Most Wanted Man (R for profanity) Screen adaptation of the John Le Carré espionage thriller of the same name, set in Hamburg, Germany, about a Chechen Muslim (Grigoriy Dobrygin) seeking political asylum who might actually be a radical Islamist in sheep’s clothing. Featuring Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright, Nina Hoss and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
My Man Is A Loser (R for sexuality, graphic nudity and pervasive profanity) Makeover comedy about two married guys (Michael Rapaport and Bryan Callen) who come to regret asking a bachelor buddy (John Stamos) for advice about how to spice up their love lives. With Sean Young, Tika Sumpter and Diane Guerrero.
Very Good Girls (R for profanity and sexuality) Bawdy bildungsroman, set in NYC, about BFFs (Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen) who enter a pact to lose their virginity before heading off to college, only to fall for the same, hunky street artist (Boyd Holbrook). Cast includes Demi Moore, Richard Dreyfuss, Ellen Barkin and Peter Sarsgaard.