A Flawed But Enjoyable Slice Of Bullet-Spewed Gore
After 2013’s promising premise for The Purge devolved into a formulaic home invasion film, The Purge: Anarchy promised a renewed vision with more world building and 3 separate sets of characters converging together to try and survive the night in an action-packed sequel. While The Purge: Anarchy brings its own set of problems to the table, this follow-up is far more focused than its predecessor, delivering a flawed but enjoyable slice of bullet-spewed gore.
The story begins with the same recorded message we heard in the first film and a reminder around the rules for The Purge. With poverty and crime rates at an all time low, America is a changed placed driven by one annual holiday simply referred to as The Purge. During this time, for 12 hours all crime is legal including murder. Instead of isolating the setting to one claustrophobic house, The Purge: Anarchy takes the wise move of moving its characters and setting to the open streets of downtown L.A. where we begin the film with an introduction to our three groups of characters.
Eva (Carmen Ejogo) and her daughter Cali (Zoë Soul) prepare for a night in with their father, Shane (Zach Gilford) and his girlfriend Liz (Kiele Sanchez) are driving home whilst the star of the show is a man referred to as Sergeant (Frank Grillo), a silent protagonist with a serious score to settle on Purge night. All of these characters have their own unique storylines and converge together relatively early on through a series of unfortunate events and have to try and survive together. During this time the group encounter mask-wearing thugs in a white van constantly on their trail as well as armoured trucks boasting mounted mini-guns and armoured men. All of this builds toward the final act which abandons logic for a change in pace and tone. While the final 10 minutes of the film do a pretty good job picking the pieces back up and providing a solid, albeit rushed, ending, the final act proves a major speed bump and quite the jarring inclusion.
As can be expected from a film like this, The Purge: Anarchy is not without its problems. In a race to try and show as much action as possible, some of the characters fall by the wayside and little to no motivation is given to anyone other than our core group of characters for doing what they’re doing in The Purge. Eva’s landlord Diego (Noel Gugliemi) is one such example, spewing a ferocious babble of incoherent logic around his reasons for joining The Purge making it difficult to take him seriously. It’s little things like this that take away from what promise the premise and the film had. While Anarchy is a far better film than the first, it’s also not saying much given how low the bar was set the first time around.
With more characters, an action-driven plot and a much better sense of scale, those disappointed by the limited scope and lack of ambition with the first film will certainly find some satisfaction with The Purge: Anarchy. Weak motivations for some characters and an incessant need to throw jump scares and more action our way all the time does become more than a little exhausting by the time the credits roll but Anarchy does well to at least hold your attention until the end. While the film is far from perfect, there’s enough here to prevent Purge: Anarchy from succumbing to the fate of the first film and becoming a disappointment.