If you ask me, James DeMonaco and Frank Grillo helped each other immensely back in 2014 when they teamed up for The Purge: Anarchy, a sequel to DeMonaco's surprise hit original.
While enjoyable, The Purge was missing something. It didn't have a clear heart and soul placed at the center, a hero to care about and cheer for. Grillo's Leo Barnes filled those shoes, and the sequel outperformed the original, critically and commercially. My friend, 550 KTRS film critic Max Foizey, called it the unofficial Punisher flick. It was cool, precise, and action packed with some gusto attached.
The pair reteamed for Purge: Election Year, which tripled its budget on opening weekend and went on to make $110 million worldwide at the box office. DeMonaco had the canvas and Grillo's action hero was the brush, with fast paced and timely pulpy cinema as the result of their connection.
Without The Purge success, we wouldn't get DeMonaco's next flick, the Staten Island based The Night, which reunites the writer/director with his muse, Grillo. It will be their third film together and this time they brought cool friends with them to play with. Actors like Naomi Watts, who will play Grillo's wife, and Bobby Cannavale, who will play a tough suit who likes to throw his fists around.
If you follow Grillo on Instagram, you'll notice that just last week, he filmed a knock-down drag-out fight with Cannavale, which legitimately fires me up even more about this film, which details the eventful night that three friends endure in Staten Island, New York, when Rocky 3 opened up.
A Grillo-Cannavale showdown is gravy, but the fact that this film, which feels personal to DeMonaco, takes place the year I was born and on the night of the opening of a film in one of my favorite franchises, really has me waiting to see what this movie has in store.
Rocky 3 opened up on May 28, 1982, and set photos from the movie, which is currently shooting, depicts scenes from a movie theater and various clubs and bars. DeMonaco went bare-boned for this film, which will only fuel its success even more. The best part about Purge 2 and 3 was the vivid in-your-face reality it cast on the audience. There were no fakeouts or overextensions in the shooting style or plot. Things happened, and the characters reacted.
Here's what I'm guessing. Grillo and Watts' son is one of the three boys, who I am guessing run into trouble with Cannavale in some way on opening night, sparking a fight, some blood, and the end of innocence 36 years ago. Think Sleepers meets Robert De Niro's A Bronx Tale thrown in.
I'm hooked, and it begins and ends with DeMonaco and Grillo, two New Yorkers going back to their playground to create some mischief and perhaps, some more magic. Blumhouse Productions, the matchstick men for flicks like Get Out and Insidious as well as the Purge films, is producing and releasing.
Grillo noted on Instagram in a picture that depicted the actor sitting in a chair in his trailer, that "some you do for the money, the great ones you do for love." Grillo then used the following hashtag, "this is a great one."
All I know is this: when James DeMonaco and Frank Grillo get together on a film set and make movies, great things happen. You know what else? Entertainment occurs. Go get 'em, gents. I'll be waiting with my popcorn.
The Night is set for release sometime later this year or in early 2019.
You can catch the fourth film in the Purge franchise, The First Purge, which is written by DeMonaco, this month.