The Purge: Anarchy ***Dir: James DeMonaco. With: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zack Gilford. 103 mins. Cert: 15
Last year’s hit The Purge ventured an superficially eye-catching premise – what if the US Government granted its citizens an annual mischief night, to get any crime out of their system? – before retreating indoors into indifferently staged runaround. The sequel, again overseen by James DeMonaco, finally thinks the idea through, following those left outside as the Purge kicks in. Flickers of dread creep in – care of those one-percenters co-opting the event for sicko entertainment – though again we’re mostly in second gear: if the first movie was a lacklustre Assault on Precinct 13 (the remake of which DeMonaco penned), this one’s a modest Escape from New York, with growly lone wolf Frank Grillo steering representative survivors between Gothy bikers and lip-smacking private armies. For Universal, the franchise is clearly a low-cost, low-risk work-in-progress, but DeMonaco is improving as a shotmaker: this entry just about plays, albeit on the level of a straight-to-DVD item or tentative TV pilot.
The Purge: Anarchy opens in cinemas nationwide today.