The Purge: Anarchy Sets Up Frank Grillo to Finally Be the Leading Man
Sirens blare and an eerie voice announces that it's best to remain indoors if you don't plan to participate. While others make safety arrangements, and some sharpen their knives, one man loads his black, steel-armored car with plenty of guns and begins cruising. Fires erupt along the street, and gunshots and piercing screams fill the air.
Courtesy Universal Pictures
In the black car is a man with a mission, and judging by his stern expression, nothing will get in his way. Cue a flicker in his rearview mirror: the beautiful woman and her young daughter held at gunpoint on the street behind him.
After cursing himself for what he's about to do, the man gets out of the car, aims his gun, and pow. One shooter down, then another, then some fancy punches and kicks and some more pow-pow, and he has just saved two innocent lives.
The night of the purge was designed for society to release its harbored angst during a 12-hour period, when all crime is legal -- go out there and kill some people! Saving people? That's not right.
With its second installment and a new leader in charge of a merry pack of victims, The Purge: Anarchy sets up Frank Grillo to be the leading man he always knew he could be.
Unlike his most recent on-screen persona, Brock Rumlow (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), whom Grillo describes as "misunderstood," the nameless Sergeant is more of a "good guy; a law-abiding citizen who was wronged."
Sitting inside a large, air-conditioned RV away from the Miami heat, Grillo laces his fingers together and furrows his brow intently as he explains the motivations behind his character. Once a normal, everyday kind of guy, Sergeant's life is one day tragically changed, "so he uses the purge as a mechanism to fill what he thinks is justice. I don't think he's a bad guy, and I think he proves that by stopping the car at the very beginning [of the film].
"He goes on to create these relationships while he's running away trying to get these people to safety that he ends up specifically creating a meaningful relationship with the young girl in the group," Grillo says. "She touches his heart and opens him up."
That depth and roundness in a character are something one rarely sees in these sort of quickly produced, niche thriller films, and that is exactly what intrigued Grillo about the role. While there might be some visual indications in the film that Sergeant isn't the nicest of people -- such as his black wardrobe and suspicious talent with weapons -- his trustworthiness is never questioned.
Sergeant is an unlikely hero, and after years of playing the supporting role, Grillo graciously demands to be taken seriously as the protagonist in The Purge: Anarchy.
He smiles with the modesty of a rising leading man and says, "It was great, you know, to be the guy."