I’ll be honest; I watched “The Purge: Anarchy” strictly because I enjoyed the first film. Starring Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey, I thought “The Purge” was a solid movie that was let down by a kooky ending.
Written and directed by James DeMonaco, the Purge series takes place in a future America where once every year, there is a 12-hour period where all crime, including murder, is legal. “The Purge: Anarchy” takes place a year after the original showing us the sixth annual Purge. As the people countdown to the hour of the start, the film showcased how 3 different groups of people got caught up in the annual “holiday” and how they fight and survived the night.
Starring Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, and Zoë Soul, I have to say “The Purge: Anarchy” is an improvement on the first film. Not only that, I have to say I’m very impressed by James DeMonaco’s ability to turn the premise of the Purge into something vastly different from the first film.
“The Purge” was a movie that showed an upper-class family trying to survive the night after their much valued security has been penetrated, “The Purge: Anarchy” went the other way. The sequel showcase people from the lower class, the ways they try to survive the night and how the annual purge is more than a holiday for people to release their aggression, it is also a way of population control for the government.
Not only that; whereas the first Purge was more of a tense thriller, Anarchy is an action movie. Gangs, paramilitary police, men on mission of vengeance like Frank Grillo’s character populated the movie and the action sequences are on a whole other level from the first movie.
Of course, having a man like Grillo in the leading role help immensely. A solid actor who made a name in supporting roles of movies like “Warrior”, “The Grey”, and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, “The Purge: Anarchy” shows how well Grillo could be in the leading role of an action movie. He is a lean mean fighting machine and the movie makes me wonder why Hollywood hasn’t make him an action star yet. This is a guy who could be the next Liam Neeson.
However the main problem that hamstrung the first film also affects Anarchy; the ending sucks! James DeMonaco really went looking for a good ending in this movie and he did not succeed.
Spoiler Alert! I mean after 12 hours of hell, Frank Grillo’s character suddenly decide NOT to take vengeance? Now I admit there’s a laundry list of characters throughout the film trying to convince the man not to take vengeance on the man who accidently killed his son but for him to suddenly decide not to do the deed just does not jell with the determined character that was portrayed throughout the film. I personally think it was a cop-out by DeMonaco.
Another (minor) point that got me was the timeline of this film. This was the sixth Purge so it meant that the purge the previous year was the fifth. However in “The Purge”, Ethan Hawke’s character explained to his young teenage son that when they were younger, both him and his wife went out purging. Does that mean they went out even when they had tween kids at home? That doesn’t make sense.
Still, the Purge series is a fascinating concept that was taken to a logical and engaging new level in “The Purge: Anarchy”. A sequel that’s actually better than the first film, watch this movie for a brutal action movie that is also thought provoking.