The Purge: Anarchy

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Release: Friday, July 18, 2014

[Theater]

The Purge: Anarchy offers you yet another chance to let it all out with a second blood-splattering of twisted social commentary.

Instead of running around blindly inside a house defending ourselves from masked invaders as we had done only last summer with the Sandins, now we band together with several nondescript characters in the streets of downtown Los Angeles. It’s the year 2023 and the sixth annual purge is set to commence. Get your shotguns ready, kiddies.

There was so much lost in the transfer of The Purge from script to screen. This grisly thriller was so ineffective in selling its audiences that a sequel became necessary as if to say, “Oh yeah! Wait. Here’s what we meant.” Though the acting isn’t much of an improvement, getting out of the house has proven to be the healthiest thing for this possible franchise-in-the-making.

One of the great missteps made by DeMonaco and company last year was stunting the growth of some of the admittedly intriguing concepts, about how one man’s choice to kill a fellow human being would invariably differ from the man standing to his left or his right. Or about how class struggles between the very wealthy and the destitute could make the choice to murder a much easier, and possibly even an economical one. What The Purge boiled down to was a luke-warm home invasion procedure, where audiences were relegated to surviving jump scares and a few squirts of blood as forms of entertainment.

The Purge: Anarchy actually stumbles just as much as its predecessor, almost as if it were stabbed in the gut, but the novelty of this evening and the concept manifest themselves in more convincing ways this time around. There’s more to focus on here. More by which to become distracted from the cheesy dialogue and over-acting. Rather than running into dead ends and hallway doors every ten minutes, DeMonaco’s new script presents more characters, more creative kills and more ethical dilemmas to mix up the tension, the violence and the surprises in a much more engaging way that The Purge simply wasn’t able to. Instead of centering around an average family that failed to really gain our sympathy, even as they were being invaded on this horrible night, we now become drawn into a cauldron of desperation and panic via three different walks of life.

We are firstly introduced to a mother-daughter dynamic between a woman who works in a diner, Eva (Carmen Ejogo) and her daughter, Cali (Zoe Soul). Eva’s working hard to earn a raise so she’ll be able to afford her father’s medicine, medicine that’s apparently not having much of an impact on whatever his ailment is. The second perspective comes in the form of a young couple fallen on hard times and actually considering separating soon — Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez portray Shane and Liz who are driving to a safe place before the commencement of the purge before they predictably break down in an unsafe part of town. Then, of course, we get the requisite battle-hardened man, a man who knows what real loss feels like. Frank Grillo seems somewhat suited for the job and is Anarchy‘s most interesting character by a long shot.

He’s relatively boring still. And a bad cliché at that. This is to suggest the rest of the ensemble are completely stock characters, and they are. There’s not a single trait among the four others that rings the bell of originality, and oftentimes many of them are completely frustrating. Cali’s infatuation with Sergeant is most vividly irritating, though the dynamic between them is not as bad, ironically, as the one between her and her on-screen mother.

But we’re not here to scrutinize every last performance. To do so in Anarchy would render this review a rant, for at least The Purge had Ethan Hawke. It wasted Ethan Hawke, but it did have him in it. Maybe it ought to be considered a consolation prize being dubbed a waste in these films. Hawke was underused and underwritten in 2013 whereas Grillo has to contend with a thoroughly expressionless and stiff character whose ultimate trajectory is one of complete predictability.

Fortunately, the bloodletting and the overarching narrative that is Anarchy isn’t quite as much. Each group of characters journey through this night in different stages of shock and each have different reactions, which allows for easier access into this world as compared to a snooty family being protected by a modern fortress. Far be it from me to tell the director how to shoot his own work, but this approach to his curious ethical dilemma here is far more interesting and says much more about the human condition than whatever it was that he came up with a year ago.

If you want to remember all the good the purge does, may I recommend you see this film rather than what came before it.

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“O fuck’s sake, this again?”

2-5Recommendation: Though still engorged with its share of narrative flaws, character woes, and thematic tenuity, The Purge: Anarchy is, at the end of the day, a mark of maturity. There are expansions in almost every direction and the most rewarding one is the physical: the setting helps to actually crank up the tension, whereas the home setting in the previous did everything it could to water down what could have been an additionally chilling indictment of a culture increasingly infatuated with violence as a means of self-expression. And I honestly would give the rare recommendation of seeing the second film before the first.

Rated: R

Running Time: 103 mins.

Quoted: “People like us don’t survive tonight!”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

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24 thoughts on “The Purge: Anarchy

  1. Hey, Tom. You praise this enough that I expected a higher score; was quite surprised to see a 4/8.

    Your praise was almost enough to make me reconsider my conviction not to see this in the theater (if it is even still playing on big screens). But you score pushes me back to ‘If I ever see this, it’ll be as a rental.’ The first was just so wretched I have very little interest in seeing a sequel.

  2. A case of bigger, but not necessarily better I guess. I enjoyed the first one and thought a sequel was inevitable. It’s got all the hallmarks of a looong franchise. Fine work.

    • I didn’t really find much to like with The Purge in all honesty, I do like Ethan Hawke but he was kind of wasted in a generic role. But the premise, now the premise I like, but I think the home invasion part was too formulaic and it suffocated what they really could have done with this kind of sadistic material. You could have seen all kinds of craziness, which you do here in the Purge 2. I recommend this one far more over the second, so in that sense, I think you’ll really enjoy this one man

    • Thanks my friend! Yes a slight step up but not much, but I’d gladly take some area of improvement! Do you think you’ll check it out? Did u see the first?

      • I did see the first and was extremely disappointed with it. I will be checking this out sometime I am sure, just really don’t want a repeat of the first!

  3. Despite the mixed reviews on this one, I am quite anxious for it. I thought the first was an utter disappointment but always said that they wasted the premise by not going outside. They made the right move this time and I hope that I personally feel like they do the theme some sort of justice. It seems like you did somewhat! Looking forward to viewing this over the next week or so!

    • You know, I was wanting to say it might have been u who influenced me in thinking how much The Purge just flaunted what could have been a good thing just by being stuck in a home-invasion set-up. . .but I don’t think we knew each other when this came out, so it must have been someone else.

      Either way, that line oft thinking is a popular one apparently, this one has had a much more positive reaction. It makes sense, there’s more to be stimulated by here. I liked it much more for sure, despite it only being bumped up a slice! 😀

      I look forward to reading your review soon then dude

      • I’ve been saying that since the very beginning but you are right about us likely not knowing one another haha!

        I just did not understand why they would set up a concept like this only to do a home invasion type movie…

        …IT BOGGLED MY MIND TOM!

      • Indeed. It likewise boggled mine. Mine was quite boggled actually.

        Instead of having two solid installments, we now limp forward with 3/4’s an awesome one. Put both of these films together and you’d have a pretty watchable political allegory

  4. Solid review. I liked the crazy concept of the first film but it was far too short and undeveloped. I’m glad this one is a step up and I do love Frank Grillo.

    • Hey thanks dude!! There’s a ton of us in the same boat on that, thinking the first had potential but just squandered it. This one does similar things but just doesn’t drop the ball as much. And Frank Grillo’s an undoubted bonus here. I think he helped anchor it for me a bit more for sure

    • I’m with you on the first, Eric. The Purge was just shit. lol. Nothing good going on there, and this one was pretty wobbly as well but it managed to spice things up a bit by having a few unpredictable sequences and a mix of the home invasion element and a Hunger Games-esque escape-for-your-life kind of plot going on. A rental would be a sound idea.

  5. I haven’t seen either of The Purge films. The reviews were just never good enough. Your review pretty much reflects what I’ve been seeing from other places. It sounds like they’re letting the great premise go to waste.

    • Hey man. There’s a lot let to be desired here for sure, but I was glad at least to see some improvement. Dialogue and acting were still weak spots, but if you’re into these kinds of hunting game-type slashers, you could probably do worse than this. If the first Purge was a raw version, Anarchy is only slightly undercooked. If there’s a third, hopefully it will be well-done. 🙂

  6. I’m with you, The Purge rattled around some interesting concepts before ultimately succumbing to its limited setting. This one certainly sounds more promising. Top work Tom!

    Adam.

    • Indeed, The Purge just blundered a good thing. Anarchy still shows signs of an underdeveloped project but it’s definitely more worth your time. I await your review with bated breaths, sir!

    • Hey there Roy. I apologize for my misleading statement, I’m pretty sure I know what it was that made u think this was a book. I only meant to imply that the ideas they had on paper sounded great but when executed, the problems were obvious. If this were a book, I’d definitely give it a read though.

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