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'The Purge: Anarchy': What's the verdict?

By Breeanna Hare, CNN
updated 4:51 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
In
In "The Purge: Anarchy," anything goes during a 12-hour period once a year.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "The Purge: Anarchy" is the sequel to 2013's "The Purge"
  • The horror movie has received decent reviews
  • Analysts predict it could earn up to $30 million its opening weekend

(CNN) -- Along with "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," "The Purge: Anarchy" may be one of the summer's sequels that actually improves on the original.

The follow-up to 2013's horror flick "The Purge," "Anarchy" raises the stakes just enough to get critics' attention.

As with its predecessor, the thriller is set in a near future when the U.S. government allows for a 12-hour "purge": a time period when the populace can do all the awful, horrible stuff they want with no consequences. Yep, that includes murder.

Though the first film was written from the perspective of a wealthy family barricaded in their home, the sequel shifts to where the action is: the violence outside.

Written and directed by James DeMonaco, who also oversaw "The Purge," "Anarchy" follows a group of five individuals who find themselves stuck in the middle of the chaos, not wanting to maim anyone but just to stay alive. The result, says The New York Times' Manohla Dargis, is a "satisfyingly creepy, blunt, down-and-dirty thriller, one of those follow-ups that improves on the original."

The Hollywood Reporter agreed, writing in its review that " 'The Purge: Anarchy' efficiently exploits its high-concept premise while delivering far more visceral thrills than its predecessor. Like it or not, a new franchise seems to have been born."

USA Today would put "The Purge: Anarchy" directly into the "B-movie" category, noting that while "the film is rutted with plot holes, lapses in logic and tin-eared dialogue," the "jarring action and outlandish premise of a lawless free-for-all are somehow riveting and inane in almost equal measures."

About those plot holes: One of the most obvious to The Washington Post is the movie's concept that the annual purge has turned into something more akin to "The Hunger Games," where the upper-class target the less fortunate for fun and the government uses the 12-hour killing spree as an opportunity to weed those deemed undesirable out of society.

It might make for a fun horror flick, but the logic doesn't add up, the paper critiques.

"This, of course, makes no economic sense, since killing your own workers is an even stupider business strategy than underpaying them -- and a sure-fire path to the poorhouse," the Post review says. "The film defies one of the fundamental rules of capitalism: Exploitation of the proletariat may be well and good, but don't execute them all."

Story troubles aside, "The Purge: Anarchy" is expected to do fairly well at the box office on opening weekend. With $2.61 million in the bag from Thursday night showings, predictions are circling a box office haul of about $30 million come Monday.

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