Directed by James DeMonaco
The Purge hit theatres last year, and we were underwhelmed to say the least. (It was even one of the runners-up on our Worst of 2013 list.) The premise, should you not be familiar with it, is simple: One night every year all crime is made legal in the U.S. – including murder. The possibilities were endless, and we were pretty excited. But then it happened. The powers-that-be threw out everything that could have made it cool in favor of a standard home invasion movie in which the majority of the run time sees our protagonists not being able to find a black guy in the dark in their home. It could have been so much more.
Here we are, a year later, and The Purge: Anarchy IS so much more and, truth be told, is the movie that we should have gotten the first time around.
Anarchy takes place one year after the first film, and we’re introduced to our five main heroes, who happen upon each other mostly by happenstance and horror. Only one of our protags is out there with an agenda: a gruff, out-for-revenge badass by the name of Sergeant (played with lots of spirit by a spot-on Frank Grillo), who reluctantly ends up becoming the leader of our band of unlucky would-be victims comprised of a mother, her daughter, and a couple on the rocks. Can he guide them to safety and still have enough time to complete the mission he’s set out on? That’s the film’s focus, and while it may seem relatively thin, The Purge: Anarchy has a whole lot to say. It’s all here… class warfare, the evil and completely untrustworthy government, families in peril, and enough twists and turns to keep everything feeling fresh as the momentum builds to the bloody climax that finds all the pieces coming together in a car crash of moral dilemmas.
You do not need to have seen the original film to go and have a blast with this one. In fact, we’d advise against it because The Purge: Anarchy stands firm on its own two feet and has more in common with classics like The Warriors (including an auditory homage to the classic Barry De Vorzon score during a key chase sequence) and Escape From New York than it does with the Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey starring snoozer.
Director James DeMonaco wickedly weaves together the world that he so badly wanted to show in his first film, and he’s as cock-sure and deliberate as they come in terms of this flick’s direction and pacing. Anarchy is actually the perfect subtitle for the film because it truly is an hour and a half of absolute chaos made even more compelling by having a cast of characters we actually give a shit about. Everyone, with the exception of a couple of bit players, brings their “A” game, and this nightmare world they’re immersed in is an absolute thrill-a-minute playground of violence and mayhem for us to navigate along with our heroes.
The Purge: Anarchy, for my money, is the biggest surprise of the summer. With it some great groundwork has been laid, and this world is rife to be explored in greater detail in other cities throughout the United States. Hell, it even helped to purge me of some of my hatred toward the first movie… that’s quite an accomplishment. See? It works!
Thank you for this unforgettable purge, Mr. DeMonaco! (*kisses forehead*)
4 out of 5