July 18, 2014 2:22 pm

What the critics are saying: ‘The Purge: Anarchy’

A scene from 'The Purge: Anarchy.'

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TORONTO — Fans of last year’s thriller The Purge — a surprise $90 million hit — will likely be heading to theatres this weekend for The Purge: Anarchy.

Set in 2023, it shows the violence and chaos on the one night of the year when Americans can commit serious crimes without fear of arrest.

The first movie starred Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey but this one has a cast of unknowns, lead by the somewhat-recognizable Frank Grillo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier).

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Will fans of The Purge want to go back for a second helping? Here’s a look at some of the reviews.

“Returning writer/director James DeMonaco establishes the initial chaos and insanity,” wrote Jordan Hoffman in the New York Daily News, “but then his set-pieces are strangely dull.”

READ MORE: What the critics are saying about other recent movies

Hoffman said the movie’s social science premise is left to “rot in a nasty, ethically questionable cesspool of junk cinema.”

The result is “one long, moral mess.”

At The Hollywood Reporter, Frank Scheck said Anarchy delivers “far more visceral thrills than its predecessor.”

He noted “character development is clearly not a high priority” but the movie is full of “arresting images.”

Scheck praised DeMonaco for “keeping the pacing brisk enough to prevent dwelling on the plot contrivances.”

According to Claudia Puig of USA Today, the film is “rutted with plot holes, lapses in logic and tin-eared dialogue.”

She wrote: “The obvious is stated again and again. It falls squarely into a category that used to be called B movies. The jarring action and outlandish premise of a lawless free-for-all are somehow riveting and inane in almost equal measures.”

Postmedia News reviewer Chris Knight called Anarchy “a brainless follow-up” that “bludgeons whatever goodwill [The Purge] might have engendered.”

Knight wrote: “The whole movie is about as subtle as the fox for prey. The rich feed on the poor, and the government swings by to mop up whatever’s left over. The moral of the story is broadcast by bullhorn, with neon subtitles.”

Bruce Kirkland of QMI Agency described it as “torture porn” and said it is “just as evil, twisted and morally bankrupt as the original.”

Kirkland complained “the politics are even more garbled. The violence is even more tiresome. The acting is also worse.”

He said the fates of the characters are so trivialized that audiences laugh out loud when the actors show emotion.

At the Chicago Sun-Times, Bruce Ingram bemoaned the lack of “the wickedly satiric sense of humour that made the original worth watching.”

He wrote: “In The Purge: Anarchy, unfortunately, grim and brutal is pretty much all we get.”

© Shaw Media, 2014

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