“The Purge: Anarchy” Takes the Ideas of the First Film and Makes them Great

The Purge: Anarchy

the-purge-anarchy-2014-442x700Release Date: July 18, 2014
Cast: Frank Gillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Zoe Soul, Michael K. Williams, Jack Conley
Director: James DeMonaco
Studio: Blumehouse Productions, Platnium Dunes
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Genre(s): Horror

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Spoilers: Moderate
IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes | Wikipedia

I’m one of those people who actually kind of liked the original Purge film so it’s probably important to keep that in mind when I say I really liked this one. I’m not saying that The Purge was a great film. But the idea was solid, the story was good, and the cast was great. But it was lacking something. They had created this entire world with these New Founding Fathers and this crazy America where people kill to release their need to commit crime and run about wildly. And what did they do with it? Very little.

The reason The Purge: Anarchy fixes that.

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There weren’t nearly enough GoPro shots in this movie. This is exactly what this world would be like, too. Every year everyone goes out and just tries to upstage each other and put it all on YouTube. I wish THAT was what they had done with the credits.

From the very beginning we’re on the streets. This time around we’re not locked up in some wealthy suburban home with some cookie cutter family trying to hide away from the crazies and their own messed up neighbors. This time we’re following normal people: a poor, working class mother and her daughter; a pair of nice, wholesome folks trapped outside after commencement of the purge; and a cop looking for vengeance for his son’s death.

The threats are real. It’s not just crazy people in masks (though there are plenty of them) but also normal, every day people that just lose it on purge night. It’s the normal people who are the most terrifying in this film if you ask me. The sleazy, asshole neighbor you snub in the hallways who come to rape you in the middle of the night; the overly patriotic and religious fanatic who screams random crap throughout the night; the guy who sets up on the top of his building, sets traps, and drinks Budweiser while sitting pretty in a sniper nest; the rich people who buy their victims so they don’t have to go out and dirty their own hands – these are the real creeps.

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Frank Grillo made this movie for me.

Set in Los Angeles in an alternate future, our heroes band together under the guidance of officer Leo Barnes (Grillo) whose own mission for the night gets sidetracked when he tries to make sure these people survive the night. Grillo owns the part. Honestly, one of the reasons I wanted to see this movie was for him. Rumlow might be a bad guy in Captain America: the Winter Soldier but Frank Grillo seemed like the kind of guy I would like to see a whole lot more of and this was a great chance to see him play the good guy. And, you know, I’ll take any chance to see Zach Gilford. He’s adorable. And he and Kiele Sanchez made an even cuter couple let me tell you.

Rounding out a fairly decent cast was Zoe Soul who last popped up in last year’s Prisoners. I really appreciated her character’s youth and idealism in the face of the purge and I thought she, Grillo, and Carmen Ejogo had great on screen chemistry… even if their relationship came off a little stereotypical-action-movie-y.

Honestly, the only character I didn’t really like was Michael K. Williams’ character. I can appreciate a guy whose taking a stand and fighting back against the New Founding Fathers and the Purge but he came off way more as a Malcolm X wannabe characture than a real, serious character. Which is kind of sad because following through with his character and their movement would make for a fantastic sequel. Taking the fight to the government? It could be a great advancement of the Purge series’ story. And Michael K. Williams is pretty awesome as an actor. So, you know, hopefully if they follow up with that in a third film (assuming there is one) they’ll iron out the issues.

Because that is totally a movie I would watch.

These guys were freaky as hell.

These guys were freaky as hell.

Basically, what it comes down to is that if you were disappointed by the limitations of the first film you really don’t need to worry about that in this one. Being on the streets gives a whole new perspective to the purge and the world as a whole. Between crazies, kill squads, and the victims we see you get a much better idea of the fear and panic that exists in this world. There’s a whole lot of motivations going on out there in the world and the most terrifying parts of the movie aren’t when people are running from obvious threats but when they get caught up in very just how normal and systematic these murders are in this world.

It’s insane.

And that’s what makes it great.

I mean, don’t go in expecting the best movie ever. This is horror. Plain and simple. There are very set heroes and villains and the character archetypes are solid and stereotypical. It’s exactly what you’d expect with the kind of grotesque moments and reflections on a hyper-violent society that you would want. It is not a gorey movie which is nice. No one’s getting cut in half or torn apart. It’s not that kind of film. It’s dark, twisted, and while lots of people die it’s not nearly as bloody as, you know, most horror films are and it’s nice to have something that doesn’t rely on that to shock people.

Seeing how normal the purge is in this fictional society is often shocking enough.

Case in point: rich people buying poor people off the street to serve as martyrs so they could take out their aggression and 'purge' in the comfort of their own home.

Case in point: rich people buying poor people off the street to serve as martyrs so they could take out their aggression and ‘purge’ in the comfort of their own home.

Final Thoughts: 
If you liked the first Purge film then definitely see this one. If you heard bad things about the first one from friends but still find the idea behind ‘the purge’ as fascinating as I do, see this one and skip the first. And if you’re looking for some mindless thrills with some good jump scares? Yeah, this is a good film for you. Basically, if you’re the kind of person whose even thinking about seeing this movie then you’re probably going to see it anyway. And you should. It’s worth it.

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