UK Release Date: 25th July 2014
Runtime: 103 minutes
Director: James DeMonaco
Writer: James DeMonaco
Starring: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Michael K Williams
Synopsis: An unfortunate couple, a struggling waitress and a man with a score to settle find themselves thrown together as the annual chaos of Purge Night unfolds.
James DeMonaco’s home invasion horror movie The Purge was a prime example of how lazy execution can derail an excellent concept. The notion of all crime being legal for a brief period every year remains an interesting one, but The Purge wasn’t the film to showcase that idea. In a rare example of a worthwhile sequel, The Purge: Anarchy pushes the concept a little further and benefits as a result.
As America prepares for the annual chaos of Purge Night, Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) is ready to settle a score in brutal fashion. Meanwhile, waitress Eva (Carmen Ejogo) rushes home to get inside her grotty block of flats before the festivities begin and couple Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez) find themselves targeted by a masked gang.
The Purge: Anarchy improves on its predecessor in just about every way. It sheds the lousy home invasion gimmick and opens out its universe to really explore the implications of the Purge. The film feels like a grubby exploitation movie, which makes it darkly entertaining where the first film was insufferably bland.
| "It will soon be a war out there."
The film weaves together its various plotlines nicely at the beginning before bringing the central characters together. Frank Grillo’s brooding vigilante makes for a believable leader, aided by some strong performances around him. The central gang really feel like disparate people thrown together in the midst of chaos, showing the level to which Purge Night reduces a previously civilised society.
In fact, the scariest parts of James DeMonaco’s world in The Purge: Anarchy are the twists into the more sinister and underhanded side of “purging”. There are some intelligent comments made about societal divisions and some truly chilling displays of how wealth still prevails in the face of lawlessness.
There’s also more than enough in terms of spectacle to carry the film along. The explosions of violence are brutal and regular, giving the movie a dark, grubby tone befitting of an evening devoted to people killing each other just because they can. DeMonaco has a real flair for these segments, conjuring palpable tension.
| "People like us… we don’t survive tonight."
The Purge: Anarchy is simultaneously a bigger movie and a smaller one. The canvas is broad, but the gloss is gone and has been replaced by a thin veneer of dirt coating just about everything. With such a down-and-dirty concept, this is a franchise that thrives by placing itself in the muck.
Pop or Poop?
Shedding the gloss and contrivance of the first movie, The Purge: Anarchy is a messy journey into the heart of Purge Night.
Great performances and smatterings of hideous violence underline the frequent social commentary and there’s some solid character work on show as well.
I never thought I’d say this after the first movie, but bring on the threequel.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.