Last year we were introduced to the Purge, a thriller that slightly strayed from the typical path by diving into the world of legalized crime. Yes you heard me legalized crime, where for 12 hours: theft, sexual assault and even murder are free of punishment in an attempt to reduce crime as a whole. The first installment into this series, attempted to scare us with a locked down, dark house and a bunch of crazed rich people. Unfortunately for this reviewer, the movie was rather boring, a bit stupid, and lacked a lot of suspense until near the end when the action unfolded and the moral filled dialogue took a back seat. So to my surprise, the announcement of a sequel was quite shocking, and I wondered just what was in store.
From the trailers, The Purge Anarchy showed some more bite than it’s predecessor, as this time the danger was taken out of the isolated home and on to the wild streets of the most deadly night of the year. Did it deliver? Yes for the most part, as the Purge opens with three stories each from a different perspective of this night of terror: the hunted, the innocent, and the purger. In a random, and conveniently timed manner, their stories link up, as they become a band of mice escaping the various nut jobs out on the street. Within the first twenty minutes or so, the movie has much more suspense than what we saw, as the group of characters begins to partake in the most dangerous game of survival. Each of the cast is “unique” in their own way, with the Sergeant (Frank Grillo) being the cold, withdrawn elite who leads the other four weaklings through the darkness. The rest of the cast does a nice job of portraying various states of mind in a situation, yet their characters for the most part are annoying. In particular is Cali (Zoë Soul) who is the active and verbal moral speaker of the group sharing her opinions every step of the way, and overstepping her boundaries. While I appreciate the morals she is presenting and strongly believe in them, her little attitude was very annoying and I waited for some event to put her in her place. Yet it never really came. The other characters in the small party evolved over the night, developing backbones and courage to fight back in the night and not be pathetic. Cali though, stayed stubbornly naïve and annoying.
Okay let’s move past the characters and get to the rest of the movie. Anarchy’s story is a continuation of the Purge’s simplistic plot, adding more insight into the government that blessed this event. While a few of the plot elements are rather lackluster and emotionally deprived, they have set up a common enemy to unite against instead of random crazy strangers. The mystery behind a few of the factions is well timed, dragged on just long enough to keep you wondering, but not so long that you stop caring, helped by the less than 2 hour running time. One continues to ask why this small band of people are wanted by so many, keeping the suspense and thrills up. What also helps is that our cast is not the usual pathetic weaklings we see in horror films, but actually have skills that allow them to survive. The Sergeant in particular uses street smarts, hunter’s intuition, and gun wielding to fight off those that choose to purge, leading to sporadic action scenes that liven up the film. Navigating the diverse nightmarish city also keeps things exciting as the band is forced to take detours and migrate from as the hunter’s traps and tricks come to life. Some of these obstacles attempt to scare you with predictable tactics we’ve seen time and time again. However, most of these jumping scenes quickly change into a struggle of dominance, often leading to a pileup of victims as the hours progress. While most of the victims often erupt into a shower of bloody ruptures, the kills aren’t quite as graphic or torturous as what we’ve seen in the past. The thing that really gets overused is the F word, which seems to be the most popular sentence filler these days, as every bout of dialogue leads to a heated use of the word. Perhaps the other adult aspect of this movie is the how soulless and twisted society has become in this movie, where emotional scandals and pent up anger is unhealthily released in sinful actions. Now older audience members are going to laugh at half of the motives, and some of the cheesy lines associated with it. Younger audience members though, may fall victim to the suggestions of this movie, so please reconsider taking them to the theater.
The Purge Anarchy is a much better movie than I had expected, and improved miraculously from the first installment. With improved action, a better setting, and some dynamic characters, this series shows promise for the inevitable sequel that is to come. Yes there are still some overstretches, particularly in the blood, dialogue, and story, but I a film series like this one begins to expect that. Fans of the series or those looking for a decent suspense thriller should check it out; otherwise take five on this weekend. My scores for the Purge Anarchy are as followed:
Movie Overall: 6.5