So last weekend I saw The Purge: Anarchy. Don’t know why I was in the mood for a violent dystopian spectacle, but I was and so I went with it. [The dearth of any good movies at local theaters--mainstream and artsy-- is really sad. Lately, I’ve been binging on Netflix like it’s chocolate ice cream.] Even though I never saw the first Purge film, I was aware of the Basic Premise that in a “new” America in the not too distant future, all laws are suspended for 12 hours on one night a year during which people can kill each other without consequence. This film continues that basic premise and follows five souls as they try to navigate the streets on the deadliest night of the year. There’s the “sergeant,” a man who’s willingly out in the streets in a fortified car and armed to the teeth on his way somewhere “to do something nasty.” There’s a feuding married couple whose car has broken down, trapping them in the city just as the “festivities” are about to begin. And then there is a mother and daughter who are unwittingly cast out of their home by what looks like a military swat team. All five souls converge when the sergeant rescues the mother and daughter and he, like it or not, becomes their lifeline to surviving the night.
Much like Snowpiercer, which is the last movie I reviewed on this blog, The Purge: Anarchy has a strong classism theme in which the rich prey on the poor in order maintain a certain way of life. In this case, the purge is seen as a way to lower crime, keep down unemployment, and to maintain wealth. In addition to the five main characters trying to survive the night, there is a subplot about a subversive named Carmelo who sends messages over the internet urging the “have-nots” to rebel against the purge. In one scene, a dead banker-type has been hoisted to the front of the building with a sign indicating he had squandered people’s pensions. A bit in your face-- I couldn’t help but to think that 1 percenters were getting a bit of a raw deal in this movie--but someone had to be the enemy, I guess.
At the end of the film, the filmmaker closes with a montage of what appears to be real footage of Americans with their guns. The images resonated because, while we may not have actually done away with the rule of law (yet?), we do have an incredible amount of gun violence in this country that has only gotten worse over time. As the lights came up in the theater, I couldn’t help but to think that the future is now.