The Purge: Anarchy – Film Review
The biggest problem with the first movie was that the action of this grand, nationwide event was caged within the house of an average, upper middle class white family.
The Purge: Anarchy fixes that, at least.
It doesn’t fix much else.
TL;DR The premise is still as tantalising as ever, but again, the plot is muddled by obvious clichés and tired social commentary. The violence and action prove themselves more competent than the first movie. If only they happened to people we cared about. 3 out of 5 stars.
Maybe the next movie will get it right?
The plot of The Purge: Anarchy takes us away from the claustrophobia of Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey’s house and out into the streets of impoverished Downtown. Frank Grillo is pretty much our main character (there’s a ragtag group involved. As you’d expect), who is out on Purge night purely to exact bloody revenge on the man who drunk drove over his son. He makes the mistake of happening upon Eva and Cali, a poverty line straddling mother and daughter who are attacked by a military-like team of Purgers. He saves them, and then also finds himself bundled with Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez, a boring couple who are stranded and being hunted by some masked goons. The group makes their way through the hell of the city, but are eventually captured by the roving goons and sold to a Purge night hunting ground for rich people (just look at that social commentary. It’s like watching a Hunger Games movie!). Zach dies, but the others are saved by the homeless guy from the first movie, who is part of an anti-Purge resistance group. Frank then drags Eva and Cali along to his murder appointment with Drunkie, but Frank ends up forgiving him, getting attacked by the leader of the military-like Purgers (who it turns out is employed by the government to execute poor people as a means of population control), getting saved by Drunkie, and presumably living to be clichéd another day.
And with the next movie being a prequel, he will join Lena Headey on the list of name actors not continuing with the franchise. It’s like feeling the pain of the Wrong Turn sequels all over again.
The Purge: Anarchy is undoubtedly a step up from its predecessor. They didn’t have Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, or Rhys Wakefield this time. But they did give us a taste of what we really wanted to see: carnage in the streets.
Except only one of the five main characters actually dies.
Why I hate this movie:
The characters are all pathetically assembly line. Frank is the grizzled former cop (I think?) turned dark by injustice; Eva is the Latina waitress with a heart of gold; Cali is the grating, opinionated daughter of a waitress with a heart of gold; and Zach and Kiele are the obligatory bland, white people with distracting relationship drama. And that’s only the main characters.
Leading the anti-Purge resistance is a preacher-like black man who wants to wake up the sheeple. The only thing surprising about him is that his militia proves themselves to be impressively organised. Then you’ve got the irredeemably amoral rich people who have to take unrealistic pleasure in Purging so the movie can have its social commentary cake. And the shadowy government, that is evidently discontent with the amount of death and destruction caused by legitimate Purgers, so they hire swaths of military men to dispatch even more poor people. Give me a fucking break.
If society at large is so permissive of the government’s policies that they would condone something as heinous as the Purge, the government should just be able to carpet bomb Downtown and be done with it. Clearly nobody in power is going to be bothered by it.
Why did Zach and Kiele wait until just before the Purge began to drive to his sister’s place (where they were planning to wait out the Purge)? It’s this bizarre lapse in planning that allows them to run afoul of the Ghouls (the goons who set out to capture them). It’s not like they didn’t know what time the Purge was going to be on. This isn’t a Channel 9 show scheduled for after The Block.
Their character development is all about how they’re separating, but they’re too afraid to tell Zach’s sister. Why?
The “selling them to rich people so they can kill them” is so unoriginal. Hostel already bled that dry years ago, baby.
Despite being an endless fucking nuisance, Frank ends up giving Cali his bulletproof vest because he sees her in a similar way to his son. Guess which one of the two ends up getting shot? It’s not Cali. If only.
There are CGI blood squibs. Fuck. Off.
Oh, and the schmaltz factor slips in just at the end when Frank spares Drunkie from his revenge. We certainly didn’t see that coming. Cutting away from the scene before we see Frank kill him also wasn’t totally obvious at all.
But it’s not all bad:
The action and the violence leave the first movie in the dust. Gone are the masked home invaders. Now it’s time for full blown gun battles in the streets. With miniguns. And semi-trailers. And Melissa McCarthy-resembling snipers.
The highlight of the violence would have to be the hunting grounds (which could probably have worked as the whole movie, really). These rich people are very prepared for the evil they commit. Naturally, because he’s the main character, Frank decisively fucks up all the hunters. The spectators are aghast. Utterly aghast. It’s the most satisfying sequence of the movie.
This is compounded when, just as Zach bites the dust, the resistance group comes in (the rich people have summoned their armed security forces to take out our main characters). And they’re led by none other than the homeless guy from the first movie. The blood flies, baby. And I didn’t seriously expect Lena Headey to return, so it was good to see at least somebody reappear.
The truck with the minigun is pretty jazzy. Frank absolutely demolishes the team (except for their leader), too.
After Frank’s car is incapacitated by the minigun fire, Eva suggests they go to her coworker’s house to borrow her car. They do, but then Eva reveals that there was never a car, and she just wanted to get them all to safety for the night. Including Frank. What a sweetie.
Frank decides to leave on his own to pursue his revenge, but the rest of the group tags along when the coworker’s sister starts shooting shit up because the coworker was having an affair with her husband. Oh, you.
The ending was a schmaltz fiesta, but it was pretty great how Drunkie saved Frank. By shooting his attacker in the head. The other military goons stand off against our heroes, but the siren to signal the Purge’s end sounds, and they scuttle off. Cool.
Oh, and Eva’s father sacrifices himself early into the movie when he is picked up by a limousine and taken to a rich family’s house to be killed. He did it for $100,000, which Eva and Cali will have transferred to them in the morning. The movie skimps out on showing us his death, but it was probably the only real surprising element of the whole film.
It only fixes some of the mistakes of its predecessor. All that predictable social commentary just comes off as noise to dampen the earnestly fun action. And The Purge series doesn’t have a Jennifer Lawrence to anchor the garbage of it all. 3 out of 5 stars.