The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

The Purge AnarchyIt’s Annual Purge Night in America, a state-sanctioned holiday for law-enforcers and civility in general as citizens are invited to engage in a twelve-hour melee of no-strings-attached criminal activity. Those not willing to participate have little option but to barricade themselves in their own homes and hope their neighbours are doing the same. In Los Angeles, waitress Eva Sanchez (Carmen Ejogo) and daughter Cali (Zoë Soul) are plucked from their apartment by masked men, only to be saved from their assailants by Leo (Frank Grillo), an ex-police sergeant who is momentarily distracted from his own personal purge. They are joined by Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez), a couple who were stranded and are now being stalked by the teens who sabotaged their car, as Leo seeks revenge for past crimes against him.

 

 

Ostensibly a sequel to 2013’s The Purge, Anarchy in fact shares little more than a premise — and what a premise it is. Set in the near future, in an over-populated America governed by The New Founding Fathers, the film posits a somewhat extreme solution: an annual purge in which violence is not only legalised but actively encouraged. The lower classes go to war while the elite pay out vast sums of money for the opportunity to indulge their most debased desires from the comfort and relatively safety of their own homes. The concept is not above scrutiny, but it’s not inconceivable either.

With the first film already under his belt, writer-director James DeMonaco wastes little time in setting up the sequel’s story. The first act is both efficient and effective, as DeMonaco introduces the new ensemble and re-establishes the premise. Young Ghoul Face and his gang of youths may have lead the marketing campaign, but the film itself favours its character over its criminals. We learn that Eva’s father is a financial burden to the family, that Leo lost a son to a drunk driver and that Shane is struggling to come to terms with the breakdown of his relationship with Liz. Unusually for a horror movie such as this, there’s nobody you’re actively willing to see die.

The sequel biggest problem is that, despite its subtitle, it’s actually quite conservative. DeMonaco doesn’t seem to want to kill off his characters either, and as a result any sense of suspense soon starts to dissipate. You know the kid is safe, and you can’t imagine DeMonaco killing off Leo before he has at least had a chance at revenge. As a result you expect any new character introduced to meet their maker first, which rather reduces the tension as the narrative becomes more and more predictable. The story also becomes increasingly convoluted as it loses sight of the simplicity that made the first so successful — instead aping everything from Hostel to The Hunger Games. Thankfully, the satire stays just about on target even if the plot loses its way.

At times really quite tense, The Purge: Anarchy sadly never graduates to full-blown terror. Miss-sold as a ground-level survival movie, the film is instead far more concerned with subjects such as surveillance and subjugation. Interesting, sure, but nowhere near as urgent or visceral as a machete-wielding skateboarder.

3-Stars

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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