The Purge: Anarchy (2014)
Directed by James DeMonaco
Michael K. Williams
Running time: 103 minutes
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Three groups of people are trying to survive Purge Night, when their stories intertwine and they are left stranded in The Purge trying to survive the chaos and violence that occurs.
I’ll be honest – I liked the first The Purge and my opinion wasn’t all that popular when I reviewed it (review HERE). Well, my opinion of it has actually gone up since then (I gave it a 6.5/10 & said it was almost a 7/10). I remember I later reviewed You’re Next (HERE) and annoyed a few people when I declared that I preferred The Purge to You’re Next (and I stand by my opinion). Is The Purge: Anarchy better than the first Purge film? It would certainly seem so as it did better at the box office (I believe) and has a much higher IMDB rating. Well, it’s not better! The first was better! IMDB users confuse me these days. This wasn’t horrible or anything – it was okay as far as sequels go but it was just a bit “what’s the point?”.
I found it interesting that this movie didn’t have any well known actors in it. I prefer that sometimes, especially with movies like these as I think it’s easier to buy into an original sort of concept such as this one when you don’t end up sitting there thinking “It’s Ethan Hawke!” the whole time. Having said that, though, I think the first film still did a slightly better job of making its point than the sequel did. However, both films left me disappointed as neither one really explored all the moral implications involved in having one night a year in which all crime, including murder, is legal. This was my main complaint about the first film – GREAT concept but not that well executed. When I heard there would be a sequel, I knew it would go one of two ways: it would either be a more intelligent film than the first one & would aim to be more “thriller” than horror or it would decide to up the violence and be more of a horror movie with more action & even less exploration of the effects on America of having an annual “Purge” night. Then Michael Bay’s name was attached to it & I was like “Shit!”.
Luckily, The Purge: Anarchy isn’t a total Michael Bay disaster (he was only a producer so I don’t know if he actually had much involvement). They did up the action compared to the first one and there were more characters & storylines going on as the first film focused just on one home invasion whereas this one focused on a group of people caught outside on Purge night. Anarchy also added a Saw/Texas Chainsaw Massacre-like character that felt a little silly and it shoved the “rich vs poor” thing down our throats WAY too much. I was disappointed with the message being so heavy handed in this one and I still feel like they need to try one more time to take this idea & do it properly. There’s so much wasted potential with both these films! Since the first movie was about one family & the second was about a small group of people in one city, it would be good if the third one could show us the effects the Purge has had on all of America further down the line (I could be wrong but I think these two films are set only a year apart). Yeah? Someone give me some money – I want to make the third film myself!
The Purge: Anarchy is an okay film with a great concept. I still think the first film is superior as, although it had its flaws, it was more intense and worked as a somewhat scary home invasion movie (I thought it felt a lot like The Strangers, which I found genuinely creepy unlike the majority of modern horror films). The characters are a bit more likeable in the second film but the story is much more predictable (especially the final outcome for our main “hero”). The message is too in-your-face in that sort of “we’re assuming our target audience is dumb” kind of way that always annoys me. Neither Purge film comes close to living up to the potential of the simple yet brilliant idea of “America having an annual Purge Night” and the second film, although it tries much harder to make a point, does a poor job of it by simplifying the story too much and turning it into more of a social commentary on the current state of affairs in America as opposed to the future America portrayed in the film. But I suppose that is kind of the point as this is only set several years into the future and the America in these movies feels no different to the America of today (just as heavily armed but, for one night a year, you’re allowed to kill anyone you please). If I were to stop overthinking things, I’d have to say I think both these movies aren’t too bad & I liked them both (especially the first one – it’s a good home invasion movie at the very least). I just get frustrated by movies that have so much wasted potential and end up being a little more harsh on them than I would be on a big “popcorn blockbuster”. I still hope, if there’s a third film, that it aims more for the intelligent thriller genre than horror. These movies seem just a little too confused as to which genre and target audience they’re aiming for.
My Rating: 7/10
**Rating upped after watching the final film, The Purge: Election Year, as I think this is a very solid trilogy & the first two films have gone up even more in my estimation.
**FYI – I went to Secret Cinema (Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back) in London last night. It was a fun experience! I’d not done a Secret Cinema before. I’ll try to get a post together about it soon. 🙂