The Purge: Anarchy isn't worth the numbing ride

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Starring Frank Grillo and Kiele Sanchez. Rated restricted. Now playing.

Last year The Purge introduced viewers to the absurd concept of an annual, government-sanctioned bloodbath in which Americans are encouraged—for the economic good of the country—to either go out and commit whatever heinous crimes they want for a 12-hour period, or hunker down in their barricaded homes with their weapons handy and hope for the best.

In The Purge writer-director James DeMonaco's sequel the domestic setting gives way to the mean streets of Los Angeles, but it isn't any more entertaining or less predictable than his original home-invasion time-waster.

The story focuses on two pairs of Tinseltown residents—on-the-rocks married couple Shane and Liz (Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez, who was great in 2009's overlooked A Perfect Getaway), and Eva and Cali, a struggling mother and daughter played by Carmen Ejogo and Zoë Soul.

Shane and Liz get stranded downtown on Purge night when their car is sabotaged, while Eve and Cali get dragged from their apartment by masked commando types. Eventually all four join forces with anti-hero Sergeant (Frank Grillo), who is out seeking revenge on the man who killed his son while driving drunk.

As the motley, bickering quintet traverses the dark and deadly streets, trying to survive against ridiculous odds, some old-school synth music helps create a brooding B-movie vibe reminiscent of The Warriors and Escape From New York, but unfortunately it doesn't last long.

As in The Purge, DeMonaco uses scenes of ultraviolence to brutally convey his thoughts on racism and class warfare in America, so I guess he means well. And his third-act nod to The Most Dangerous Game is amusing in spots.

But unless you're the type who thrives on endless images of folks being shot, stabbed, and burned to death, you'll hardly think that the social commentary is worth the numbing ride.

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