The Purge: Anarchy Movie Review
People die and it's all good baby in The Purge: Anarchy, the sequel to the hit horror-thriller about a near future where, for one day a year, it's legal to rape and murder anyone you want. What would you do if you could do anything you want?
I would clear the streets of shitty Seattle drivers. I don't know if I would have time to get all of them, but I would do my best. I'd be a hero. These drivers are terrible. I mean, absolutely terrible. It was as if God decreed that "There shall be bad drivers and I shall place them on Seattle streets!"
I digress. Where were we? Oh yes, The Purge: Anarchy. It's a pretty awesome movie, actually. Better than the first, in terms of scope, production value and excitement level. The film lacks the star power the first one had—Ethan Hawke, namely—but it brings back writer/director James DeMonaco, who clearly has a vision for this world he's created.
The Purge: Anarchy is a fun thrill ride where crazy can happen at any time. DeMonaco maintains a fast, suspenseful pace splattered with some decent action sequences and a few loopy turns, especially as he delves deeper into his exploration of the rich preying on the poor. A scene where rich people bid at an auction for a chance to hunt and kill the protagonists is especially good.
The movie's weaknesses can be chocked up to standard horror clichés, even though The Purge: Anarchy is much more an action-thriller than its predecessor was. While "Sergeant" (Frank Grillo) holds his own as the badass protagonist, DeMonaco's screenplay is littered with clunky dialogue and, much worse, annoying characters. While Shane and Liz (Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez) are fine, the mother-daughter characters of Eva and Cali (Carmen Ejogo and Zoe Soul) are downright painful. You want Eva to die as soon as possible, and Cali is as obnoxious as a dumb, loud-mouthed teenager in a deadly situation can be.
Watching these two on screen made me want to enter the Purge and either 1) let someone kill me right then and there; or 2) hunt them down and take care of business. Just like those Seattle drivers.
There are a few other shortcomings. DeMonaco has a pretty awesome concept to play with, a concept that can be as balls-to-the-wall crazy as he wants it to be. And yet (mild spoiler) most of the protagonists fare surprisingly well in this deadly world of his; had he really wanted to embrace the concept, he should have been more willing to kill off anyone at anytime. It works for "The Walking Dead" and "Game of Thrones," why not in a movie about killing people?
And finally, I'd love to see him take the concept further and show other crimes other than murder. The Purge: Anarchy is pretty fun as is, but think of what it could have been had he, even in the background, shown what other strange things are going on that night?
Nonetheless, The Purge: Anarchy is an impressively satisfying sequel that, aside from a few obnoxious characters, fires on all cylinders. Now I have to go take a drive.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.