I had the exclusive pleasure of checking out The Purge: Anarchy tonight thanks to a connection to the film, and I can honestly say beyond any SHADOW of doubt that writer/director James DeMonaco has HEARD the fans complaints from the first movie and answered them beyond my wildest dreams.
To give you some brief context: the first movie, The Purge, was essentially a home invasion robbery with this “Purge” concept thrown on top. A solid 5/10 film. Needless to say every fan raised a ruckus screaming to actually see ‘The Purge’ in action.
Well, we asked for it, and we got it in SPADES.
As I mentioned earlier, this film, a sequel to the 2013 movie The Purge, explores the concept of the Purge, an annual event where for 12 hours all crime is legal, from a different perspective. The perspective of those purging, caught outdoors.
We are immediately introduced to three groups on the eve of the Purge. There’s Sergeant Leo (Frank Grillo), a man set on revenging the murder of his son, a mother and daughter duo stuck in the slums, and Shane and Liz , a freshly divorced couple stranded when their car breaks down.
The movie itself takes place in Downtown LA (coincidentally where the movie was screened, which made leaving the theater after dark a bit…eerie), where somehow the director managed to either clear the streets (something I’d deem next to impossible as a resident) or digitally empty them – either way, the image is immediately haunting. Once the purge begins, our 3 groups are miraculously thrust together, whereupon they are forced to survive together or die alone.
After banding together on the promise of a car for our main badass Sergeant Leo, they push through the now post-apocalyptic streets of DTLA, through hellish scenario after hellish scenario, facing traps, snipers, masked lunatics and the wealthy insane (and insanely wealthy) while a group of Freedom Fighters does battle against the ‘rich bitches’ in rare and bloody fashion.
WOW. Between guttural curses and screams of “OH MY GOD” and “HOLY SHIT” I walked out of that theater breathless and almost at a loss for words.
Which, if you know me, is saying a hell of a lot.
I knew that Director James DeMonaco would be bringing the fire this time around, as he had a lot to answer for, but I never expected him to bring it around so stunningly. On top of the brilliant direction and cinematography, there wasn’t really a weak link in the chain of actors – I found every one, even the super side roles, well delivered and completely believable.
Sitting pretty at a relatively standard run time of 103 minutes, it feels like at least 3 hours long – and remarkably, that isn’t a bad thing. It isn’t that it dragged, not by a long shot – its that every groin clenching moment stands out from the one before it. Once the action kicks off its unrelenting, bringing new situations, people, and deaths every couple of scenes – it keeps you on the edge of your seat, tense, not wanting to rip your eyes away for even a second for fear you miss something.
The last time I experienced something like this was Gravity, and for completely different reasons.
The Purge: Anarchy also does something unique, something I’ve only ever encountered in zombie films. It begs the question: what would you do? I found myself pondering different tactics – where I’d go, who I could trust, what weapons I’d use and would I be capable of ‘Purging’ myself?
All in all, The Purge: Anarchy is an intense, gripping, provocative and emotional rollercoaster well worth the price of admission. Discard any misgivings you have from the first film – the sequel burns away all doubt and replaces it with adrenaline filled glee.
TL;DR 9/10. The Purge: Anarchy presents us with a darker side of humanity and puts you in the shoes of the targeted, the desperate few praying for sunrise.