FilmReview

Review: ‘The Purge: Anarchy’ Improves The Franchise, But Not Enough

Adam Reynoso ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

 

Keith Stanfield in The Purge: Anarchy. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.
Keith Stanfield in The Purge: Anarchy. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

 

Taking the action outside and into the rest of the world, The Purge: Anarchy offers a new look at the world established in the first lackluster film, but still suffers from some of the same flaws as well.

The film starts out a couple of hours before the titular purge (a fictional day in the future where all crime is legal for 12 hours every year) and establishes the three sets of characters the audience will be following. It shows all the preparation they undergo, whether it’s a family locking up, a man preparing to exact his revenge, or a couple just getting a few last things from the market. Things seem to be going well enough until the purge actually begins and the couple finds themselves with a broken car and nowhere to keep themselves safe, the family is kidnapped, and the man feels obligated to save them. From there, the three storylines eventually converge and they have to work together to survive the night.

Carmen Ejogo, Frank Grillo, Kiele Sanchez, Zach Gilford and Zoë Soul in The Purge: Anarchy. Photo Credit: Justin Lubin/Universal Pictures.
Carmen Ejogo, Frank Grillo, Kiele Sanchez, Zach Gilford and Zoë Soul in The Purge: Anarchy. Photo Credit: Justin Lubin/Universal Pictures.

Where the first film was more of a home invasion film, the sequel is more of a survival film that brings Escape From New York to mind. Aside from exploring the world outside of the house, the film also attempts to bring in a look at the politics going on, as well as how class plays into the film. Early on, a video showing an anarchy group is shown and is brought up throughout the movie, making audiences wonder how it will eventually tie into the events going on. And while there is a payoff with that, when it happens it almost seems too easy of a resolution.

One element the film tackles well is the action. Writer/director James DeMonaco seemed to listen to the critiques of the first film, and with a bigger budget really expand the world teased in the first one. To see what happens on the night of the purge is both frightening and exciting. But what are even more curious are the professional teams brought in to take out certain buildings. None of them hold back and are brutal. What’s more, the class divide is constantly shown as the wealthier citizens have a different way to purge. Instead of going outside and risking their lives, they can pay lower class people to volunteer to be killed for money for their families. Some take place in an auction type of setting and a put in a hunting scenario alongside the other wealthy patrons.

Frank Grillo in The Purge: Anarchy . Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.
Frank Grillo in The Purge: Anarchy. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

Where the film fails is the writing. The characters never feel like anything more than cardboard cutouts of the usual stereotypes. There’s no real depth or actual development. While the film has the right tools to be decent film, it never lives up to its real potential. Even the lead character, played by Frank Grillo, doesn’t do much besides being angsty, angry and the one to take charge and kick ass. Which is fine, but there are also better ways to write a protagonist. Aside from the characters, the world feels like it could do with another visit from a different perspective. Or, perhaps, follow those who are rebelling against the upper class.

The Purge: Anarchy does offer something different from the first film, which is definitely an accomplishment, especially when so many movies prefer to take what works in the original and just rehash it. But it lacks in having any real depth or strong characters. If they do make a third one, it would be interesting to see if they explore who exactly the Founding Fathers are, what the anarchy group is doing, and if they’ve reached more people. Also, hopefully they can add a little more horror or suspense, an element that seemed to be missing in this one.

Overall Grade: C+

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