The Purge: Anarchy – 4 out of 5
I’ll never forget when the first film came out. I was excited to see it because the concept is very cool. However, I was less than thrilled with the final product but the core of it was still interesting and that was the topic of discussion in a movie group I’m a part of on Facebook. One member (who left the group) said that he and his whole family came to the conclusion that they could see Obama trying to initiate something like The Purge. I asked him why that is and what he has done in his presidency that would make a jump to making all crime legal for a single 12 hour period every year feel like a natural progression in the man’s time in office and all I got was the response that it just “seems like something he would do.” This, of course, means that because he’s black he would do this. I wish the first film left some other impression on me because this is literally the only thing that comes to mind now when I think about it but after watching the film’s sequel, I may no longer have to think about some random dude’s poorly disguised racist thinking…
The time for the annual Purge is upon us and citizens everywhere are either getting ready to hide under any rock they can find or getting ready to get their murder boner hard and ready and use the rocks others are hiding under to bash their brains in. Cali (Zoë Soul) and her mother Eva (Carmen Ejogo) are hoping to be protected in their apartment only to be thrown out of it by a mysterious armed forced of armored guards and troubled married couple Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez) are trying to get home only to have their car die on them. While this is happening, Sergeant (Frank Grillo) is armed to the teeth and on a mission. He stumbles upon these four troubled individuals and puts his mission aside to help them. Now they are all in a game of life-and-death and are out to survive the night while forces are to see them purged.
|"Okay, gang. My plan to survive tonight is to not die. Ready? Break!"|
I really wanted to like the first film because the concept of our society having a half a day where people can commit crimes unpunished seems to be the perfect setup for terror. Watching people try to survive the night seemed like it was a sure thing but the final product was pretty sloppy and poorly executed. Anarchy seems to fix the problems and made a film that is able to dig into the mythology of The Purge and also really make you feel how frightening it would be to try and survive a night like this. And that is, with a doubt, the strongest and my favorite thing about the film.
|The same guy who said Obama would start The Purge is probably blaming the car dying|
on the fact a woman was allowed to sit in the driver's seat and operate the car.
|"OnStar told us to kiss our asses goodbye when I asked|
Anarchy expands on the established foundation the first film created and goes further to show you that it is more than just people who are out to do bad things and people who are hiding from the people doing bad things. There was a richer level put into this film as we see sketchy dudes trying to get into the pants of Eva by saying they’ll protect her and then lash out when their advances are denied when The Purge begins. We see Sergeant using this time to right the wrongs that have been done to him and, finally, we see there is an organization out to stop The Purge and use their rules against them. I found this element to be particularly interesting because not only does it automatically create a story for the impending third film but the organization is intriguing to me. Sure, the idea of a rebellion going against the established order is nothing new in the world of film but there’s a reason this trope is see so often (especially lately in tween fic), a lot of people find it interesting and I am definitely intrigued to see how it will play out in the next movie. It also didn’t hurt that the rebellion is led by Michael Kenneth Williams (Omar from The Wire to those not in the know).
|He really should have come into the room whistling "The Farmer in the Dell."|
Another element I really enjoyed about this film is that it is terrifically acted and has some interesting characters to it. Eva, Cali, Shane, and Liz may be the ones in distress that need rescuing but they never seem like the characters who are only around for that reason. They all have some conflict in their lives that are playing out while trying to survive The Purge and while some of this conflict may not be developed as well as it needs to be and will sometimes get forgotten about, it’s still enough to make them more interesting than being just background characters or people who were written in just to be killed at a later time. Additionally, the actors portraying each of these characters really make the characters feel real and believable. However, the real stand out in this film was Frank Grillo as Sergeant.
|That road is dying to be jaywalked...man, I wouldn't be good with The Purge.|
|The intense look on his face is lightened when you realize|
he's listening to that "All About the Bass" song.
Ever since I saw him as Crossbones in Captain America: The Winter Soldier I have been a fan of Frank Grillo. The guy can act and he has that badass, hard-as-nail demeanor about him that works for the gritty roles he’s taking (I sure hope we see more of him as Crossbones in the Marvel Cinematic Universe). He takes what he’s already shown he can do and applies it to Sergeant in this film but goes even further by making his character a sympathetic one. While I won’t get into Spoilers Territory here, Sergeant’s work in The Purge: Anarchy is already something that a viewer can easily sympathize with. It was pretty easy to guess what he was doing when The Purge started and his reasons for his mission are enough to make a person feel for him but Grillo gives the character depth and you can feel the internal battle that is within him. Grillo really showed that Sergeant has a duty he feels he needs to get done but he also won’t let innocent people suffer during this trying time. I’ve seen Grillo play the villain, and do it well, but he proved that he can play the hero, too. I won’t lie, there were times that I was practically pumping my fist as he dished out ass-kickings in order to protect the group he placed under his wing.
|"Is that...is that a dollar? This is the best Purge ever!"|
The Purge: Anarchy might not be treading new ground and doing something tremendously different or earth-shattering, however, the film does expand and develop the world this film exists in quite well. Additionally, the film’s tale of survival is varied enough that it stays interesting its entire run time. The group is constantly being subjected to new terrors that, to some, might start to feel ridiculous but kept me glued to the story the entire time and had me cheering for their survival. Finally, the film is capable of riding the line of being brutal without being overtly gory to the point the film ends up transforming into gore porn. Its violence is just harsh enough to feel real but never too over-the-top.
|So...with the establishment of The Purge, did the right to easily buy ridiculous |
weapons also get put into law?
While on the surface, The Purge: Anarchy might feel like an unnecessary sequel that is just a throw away story of people trying to survive the night or even come off like a quick and easy Direct-to-DVD sequel, the reality was I found something much more expansive and engaging than the first film and something that was able to be thrilling and action-packed at the same time. I like the cast, the acting was great, the characters were easy to get behind, the violence is done just right, and the story simultaneously builds on the first film and expands it into new territory and feathers out some of its history--not to mention taking it from a small family trying to make it through the night in their home and bring it to a bigger, city expanding story really helped. My expectations weren’t high with this one but I found a film that was exponentially better than I was ready for and that was refreshing. It actually makes me excited to see the third film.
|I don't want to make it sound like I hate old people but I really wanted to see this old|
lady get her comeuppance.