"The Purge: Anarchy" Review
Well, it can’t be as bad as the first one, can it?
The Purge: Anarchy is a horror-action-thriller written and directed by James DeMonaco, whom also helmed the first installment in the series. It stars a group of unknowns that band together and attempt to survive the streets of Los Angeles during the annual purge.
You see, at roughly the same time last year, I remember being extremely excited for the first film, and upon first viewing I actually enjoyed it. I even gave it a positive review and everything. Since then though, I have garnered a slight distaste towards it after I realized how poorly constructed the film actually was. So, when I heard that the studio was fast tracking a sequel due to how big of a box-office hit it ended up being, it’s pretty safe to say that I wasn’t super excited for it. However, unlike the first film, which had a brilliant concept (one night of the year where across the nation all crime is legal), this second film is (seemingly) using the concept to it’s maximum potential by having the characters going outside to actually witness the chaos going on instead of staying inside of their secluded homes; and that honestly got me rather excited. Plus, there’s no way this film could be nearly as mindbogglingly dumb as the first one, could it?
Fortunately, it’s nowhere near as dumb. Still very stupid, with most of the characters doing extremely illogical things at certain points, but it’s also a huge improvement over the first film.
One of the biggest changes from the first one is the tone. Instead of going for a “slasher” vibe like the first film did, which failed might I add, Anarchy just goes straight for the action-thriller route, and for the most part, it really works. It gives the film more of an old-school, almost 80’s quality to it, not unlike a John Carpenter film. It almost feels like blasphemy saying that though; and don’t get me wrong, when I make that odd comparison, I’m definitely not saying it’s nearly as good as any of Carpenter’s films or anything like that, I’m just pointing out that the tone feels very similar to some of them, namely Escape from New York which also captures the surrounding chaos the same way as Anarchy does.
The action and violence is great, and luckily, there’s a ton of it. Never did it feel over the top though, or overused either. It’s never super brutal or necessarily disturbing, and it almost has a gleefully dark sense of fun to it; which the first film didn’t have at all.
The film of course isn’t without it’s flaws though. One of the major issues DeMonaco seems to have is the pacing. Just like the first film, it takes its sweet time to get to the actual purging; and until then, we have to suffer through quite a lot of time that’s sorely dedicated towards fleshing out the very uninteresting main characters and their truly horrific dialog. Just a few extra problems you can add to the already redundant exposition the characters have to spout over and over again to make sure the audience gets the rules and such.
The visual aspect of the film is very well handled. Like most of Platinum Dune’s work, the film has a decent budget behind it and that really gives the filmmakers some room to create some really striking visuals. Particularly a few shots involving some skateboarders with painted faces. Eerie, but also “could-someday-be-iconic” looking.
Of course, just like the first film, to get the entire plot rolling, the main characters all make some really stupid decisions that end up getting them involved in this total mess. It’s something that feels somewhat lazy. Almost like the screenwriters had no idea how to get their characters into this crazy situation, so they just thought up some mundane and ridiculous way for it to happen, used it, and then hoped that the audience would just look right past it and move on. Which is something that is pretty tough to ask from modern day audiences.
Overall though, while it’s not a great film by any means, it is a pretty fun ride that’s chocked full of quality action violence with a great visual component to it as well. So, if these Purge films keep improving with each installment, I wouldn’t mind seeing a 6th one and have it end up being an absolute masterpiece.