On the Silver Screen – The Purge: Anarchy

Jul 31, 2014 | Posted by in Movies

Director James DeMonaco returns to write and direct The Purge: Anarchy, sequel to last year’s horror thriller The Purge. This installment follows a different set of characters as they try to survive this annual event.

As a concept, the idea of crime being legal for one night a year so that we humans can let out our darker natures and not commit crimes the other 364 -or 365 on leap years- days is completely ridiculous. Such a concept presupposes that most of us are ready to kill each other at a moment’s notice and just needed a legal excuse to do it. Granted it seems that not everyone participates in this barbaric event but it doesn’t paint humanity in a good light. This film does touch on the real reason for this being legalised, namely population control which makes a kind of sense from a corrupt government point of view but the supposition that most people want to murder others is still there and not something I personally agree with. I think more people would spend Purge night downloading as many movies as their broadband connection would let them than going out with some guns and shooting their neighbours dead.

Anyway, I’m not here to critique the idea of The Purge (I’ll do so in a separate article at some point) so I’ll just review The Purge: Anarchy. The story initially follows a couple who are left stranded by a broken down car when this all begins leaving them exposed and vulnerable in a world full of murderous psychopaths seeking to kill anyone for no apparent reason. All hope seems lost until they run into Frank Grillo’s Sergeant who is out on a personal mission of revenge but lets common decency get the better of him and decides to help out defenseless stragglers. The rest of the film has him protecting these useless hangers on as he tries to get rid of them so that he can get back to his own mission.

Grillo makes this film somewhat worth watching with his tortured -mostly implied- back story and his action movie skills. He’s a capable leading man and we don’t find out enough about his character for him to become as annoying as the rest of them. He doesn’t say much and shoots people, mostly good enough for me. The moments where his character is a little fleshed out are really good and Grillo injects these scenes with enough pathos to stop me from wondering why I’m even bothering to watch this for a minute or so. Comparisons have been made to the Marvel Comics vigilante The Punisher and the character portrayed here and yeah, I could totally see that. I think he has the right look and attitude to play this character but the problem lies in that Grillo is already playing the Marvel character Crossbones but if they had him pulling double duty I’d be fine with that. He’d be a damn good Punisher, this film proves that if nothing else.

As an action movie it kind of fails on multiple levels. The action scenes aren’t exciting enough or even violent enough to fully justify their existence, those hoping for entertainment through gratuitous violence should watch something else because you won’t find it here. I like a good action scene but there just aren’t any here but if you like random gunshots followed by people falling over with some blood then this is the film for you. Despite the short running time the pacing is awful, it feels like it’s going on forever with the abundance of underdeveloped characters not helping much.

I haven’t seen the first movie but I’m told it makes little attempt to explore the concept and test the premise in any meaningful way; this film begins to do this and often poses the question over whether it’s a good idea or not, there’s also the odd mention of population control as a potential reason for all this happening as well as the hint of some kind of conspiracy going on at the top level of government. Pretty much everything you’d expect as they tackle all the clichés possible in the short running time. I’ll give them some credit for at least starting to tackle the insane nature of a world that gets by with such an annual event but they don’t do enough definitive with it; probably because they’re planning to make lots of sequels before this premise becomes more tired than it already is.

The Purge: Anarchy


Overall, this film is dumb, poorly paced and just plain boring. It doesn’t even hold up as an action movie as the action scenes are bland and unimaginative. It gets some props for Frank Grillo’s performance and the fact that it begins to question the premise as well as how it relates to society but there’s not enough here to justify watching it.