Detractors of 2013's "The Purge" usually talk about their disappointment that the film's setting is too self-contained for a hair-raising concept that would seem to better lend itself to a wider scope. The premise is a humdinger, imagining a near-future state where, for one night per year, the U.S. government (led by "The New Founding Fathers") has sanctioned all crime—including murder—legal. What many naysayers overlook about the picture is that by centralizing the action to the solitary location of a well-off family's high-security adobe, writer-director James DeMonaco was out to make a cutting microcosmic commentary on class division and morality. Getting there, the movie threatened to become a standard home-invasion thriller, but where "The Purge" led in the final stretch was brave, provocative and devilishly unexpected. In devising a sequel, returning filmmaker DeMonaco has clearly listened to the criticisms leveled at his previous feature. "The Purge: Anarchy" does, indeed, widen its breadth to explore what is happening out on the city streets during the deadliest twelve hours of the year, proving to be a fitting companion piece that doesn't simply repeat the formula of its predecessor. Within this change, however, is also a sometimes uncomfortable deviation in genre from horror to action pic.
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