Movie Review: The Purge: Anarchy

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Stars: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Zoë Soul, and Michael K. Williams

Rated R for strong disturbing violence, and for language Running time 130 minutes, Action/Horror/Thriller

Compare to: A Perfect Getaway (2009), You’re Next (2013)

After any movie on a three million dollar budget makes eighty nine million back, you’re bound to see a sequel regardless of quality. And though the first felt much more ambitious in idea than execution, a further explanation or examination of this masochistic future seemed possible, should the perceived mistakes of the first film be corrected.

So are the previous errors corrected? Sure, provided you can accept the premise in the first place. Once you get past your outlook on humanity, anything is possible in these movies. It’s what’s entertaining and terrible at the same time about them.

A year after the events of the first film in the year 2023, everyone’s preparing for the annual Purge; it’s a night to release your inner demons on the one night of the year where every single crime is acceptable. Several strangers lives intersect as they attempt to survive the night.

It helps to be completely immoral. Not that you SHOULD be...

It helps to be completely immoral. Not that you SHOULD be…

A major theme of the first film seemed to revolve around the love and hate we share for our common man. Letting hatred run wild toward people we’re generally nice to while finding common ground with those we’d normally cross the street to get away from. Nice concept, but too many cliches and convenient plot devices to keep audiences interested as the film was met with generally negative reviews by critics and audiences.

Enter the sequel. Here, the not-to-distant future is fleshed out just a bit more by letting us get out of the house and into the streets where the rest of the world is willingly going crazy. For the most part, we’ve got our standard Horror protagonists; most notably a couple in the midst of a separation who’s night isn’t going the way they want it to as they try to survive the attacks of ruthless street thugs.

...And armed soldiers!

…And armed soldiers!

And while the actors themselves don’t get too carried away with shrill screams and plot-induced stupidity, it’s really Frank Grillo’s character of Sergeant Leo Barnes that makes the movie feel like it’s going anywhere.

The usual set up for Horror/Suspense films involves main characters that can do little more to fight the nasty antagonists in whatever form they take, be they meat-craving monsters or knife wielding mad men. But Grillo’s portrayal of Barnes allows us to vicariously fight back all the annoying little punks, thugs, and whoever else is out to murder, maim and torture innocent victims. And though he’s the only really likable character, his story arc is intriguing enough to get us through the night.

The problem that underlies the entire film though is the premise itself. Interesting as it is to imagine Lil ol’ Granny Smith blowing neighbors away with a shotgun because it’s legal and under the surface, we’re all sick enough to perform the same actions, any explanation of said actions is still void.

These are the people you don't want to be on Purge night: Pretty white people.

These are the people you don’t want to be on Purge night: Pretty white people that AREN’T the only main characters.

It seems we’re just meant to skip past the formalities of exposition in the one Horror movie where we need it most. Not because we need everything spelled out for us, but because it otherwise feels like we only scratch the surface to make for an average movie.

Here’s to a third one and then onto the multiple direct-to-DVD sequels.

Positives: Frank Grillo is cool and it’s a fitting role for his caliber of acting, unpredictable action make for an intense setups, interesting concept, improvements made over the last film.

Negatives: No explanations where it’s necessary to a degree and one can’t help but get the idea it’s out of laziness as opposed to suspense, several Horror cliches strung throughout the film to make it watchable, but not much more.

Grade: C+

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One Response to “Movie Review: The Purge: Anarchy”

  1. Class warfare mixed with a little violence…what’s not to like. Lame movie

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