Frank Grillo Is out for Revenge in 'The Purge: Anarchy'

By Vancheri, Barbara | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), July 17, 2014 | Go to article overview

Frank Grillo Is out for Revenge in 'The Purge: Anarchy'


Vancheri, Barbara, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


The movie mantra of "The Purge: Anarchy" is still kill or be killed, but the claustrophobic confines of a suburban neighborhood have been traded for the wide open, nighttime and temporarily lawless spaces of Los Angeles.

The sequel, like the original starring Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey as a couple who tried to make their home a fortress, is set as the New Founders of America have sanctioned an annual 12-hour "purge" to ensure that the crime rate stays below 1 percent the rest of the year.

For one long night, any and all crime is legal, which means it's like the wild West but without fear of sheriffs, posses, the hangman's rope or modern-day executioner's needle.

Frank Grillo, an actor who has one of those familiar faces and resumes -- "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," "Warrior," "The Kill Point," "The Shield" and "Guiding Light" -- plays Leo, a sergeant "who you learn early on is out for revenge, revenging something that happened to a child and using the purge to do something I normally wouldn't do.

"But along the way, I wind up helping somebody, and it deters me from my journey and so we all learn a lot about ourselves by the end," he said in a recent call from a Philadelphia publicity stop.

The thriller was filmed at night in downtown Los Angeles, more of a daytime magnet for workers and visitors than residents.

"There are a lot of homeless people, actually, in downtown LA," he said. "So we would be shooting guns and running away from cars chasing us, and many times there were people who had no idea what was going on, and I think they thought it was the end of the world."

The weirdness spilled over to cast and crew, too. "When it's night time and your body's not really acclimated to staying up at night and you're doing this crazy stuff, you start to believe that you're actually running from someone," he said.

Is "The Purge: Anarchy" a message movie or a summer film that just happens to have a message?

"It is entertainment, and it is a film first, but there is -- and the director and I talked about this a lot -- a political statement that we're making. And I think it has to do not only with violence, and specifically gun violence in our country, but our country being a little obsessed with violence.

"And also with the status of the poor in our country, and how we see them. Do we really see them as people who are disposable because they don't have money? It should ask those questions, but at the same time, it's entertainment."

Although just the fact that people wonder, "Do you think this could ever happen?" says something about what writer-director James DeMonaco created in both films.

Or would you like it to happen? Although maybe not to that exaggerated extent.

"Have you ever been cut off or been in a grocery store and someone was rude, have you ever said to yourself ... I wish I could just punch that guy in the face and I wouldn't get in trouble? I think everyone at some point has said that, and I think that's why people relate to the idea of the purge. We've all, as human beings, said, 'If I could just get away with it.' "

At the time of the interview, he had seen the movie only with his wife, actress and fellow "Guiding Light" alum Wendy Moniz, "who's not a fan of genre movies or violent movies in any way, and I brought her specifically to use her as a bellwether.

"From the beginning of the film, she was on the edge of her seat. The movie starts off with a bang and right until the end, which has a really atypical ending for a film like this, she absolutely loved the movie. …

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