I said in my review of the first movie that should this franchise get out of the home and onto the street the films entertainment value would be all the better for it – ‘The Purge: Anarchy’ delivers on this. The plot of this film is exactly what you would expect from the franchise sequel and is executed as well as I had hoped.
‘The Purge Anarchy’ follows several groups of citizens who, for various reasons, get trapped outside on Purge Night – the annual holiday where all crime is legalised for 12 hours. We follow their antics, and some pseudo-political sub-plots as they duck and weave their way through America gone mad.
It’s quite the journey!
I am not sure at all if this (or its successive sequels) were planned when the whole ‘Purge’ concept was conceived, but gratuitous on-screen violence hasn’t seemed this justified since Eli-Roth gave us Hostel! Considering this movie has a 15-age rating I was plenty pleased with the over the top levels of violence spattered generously through the films run-time.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some attempts at characterisation, in both the protagonists and to a very flimsy degree, the antagonists also, but ultimately this movie plays out like an urban slasher flick, where the entirety of the city act the part of the stalker; and I couldn’t care less about the characters, despite the films attempts at making us care. That said, rather than have us bogged down with backstory and exposition ‘The Purge: Anarchy’ seems to know exactly what the fans are looking for keeping its pace with the group essentially moving their way through a multi-staged gauntlet where the wide variety of psychos each get their time to shine.
In the first movie the aesthetics of the antagonists seemed only there for the ‘cool’ factor, in ‘Anarchy’ each groups aesthetics allow for not only differentiation, but to theme their MO. I was blown away watching one manic unloading rounds from a minigun from inside of his truck, in another scene mad-max style vehicles spew flames from their mounted turrets, and there’s an almost continues stream of victims being stabbed and shot which is either shown on screen, or more commonly as satisfyingly gruesome aftermath. Naturally much of the violence is over quickly, after all this movie is still trying to straddle the horror/thriller genre, so don’t expect any standout scenes of brutality, but with sheer frequency and volume, you can’t complain.
In terms of the thriller elements there are attempts to continue the socio-political critique which runs thematically throughout the whole franchise, but when the violence is as stylised as it is throughout, it’s difficult to be convinced that this film represents anything beyond entertainment value.
The films last half hour or so leans on these themes to conclude the story; and to loosely set the film up for another sequel.
For me, the best parts of the movie are shown in the first hour, but for some, those who really want to know more about the Purge itself, and the class-divide it seems to highlight there are some nice little touches, although I feel the film does slow-down towards its conclusion as a result. Earlier on in the film there is a set of scenes where a lower income man sells himself to a rich family so that they are able to purge in the safety of their own home, this is short, snappy piece slows the pace down briefly, and it makes an impact. The final stages of the film take place in a set piece akin to this concept, but it ends up so contrived that it makes a pantomime of any real message. The conclusion, rounding off one of the main characters storyline is another throw-away, quickly reminding you that you aren’t watching some cruel little indie flick, but a studio horror with the ‘good guys’ redeemed for their part in the carnage by one heartfelt act; definitely not one to overthink too much…
Overall, despite a fairly silly ending ‘The Purge Anarchy’ delivers and is well worth a watch. If you were put off by the first film, because, well its very mediocre, but you dug the concept then give this a go. For high budget horror carnage, things don’t get much better.