Nutshell: I give The Purge: Anarchy an A-. Much more of a thriller than it’s original claustrophobic predecessor, Anarchy shows viewers all the chaos on the streets, and in the hidden enclaves of the über-rich. It even gets a little class-warfare in, along with some serious thoughts on vengeance, entitlement, duty and civic responsibility. Oh, and it’s creepy as hell too.
TwitView: Thought-provoking, violent and in-your-face. This ain’t the first film. Cool. A-
Last year, people headed to the theater in droves to see The Purge. Unfortunately, they hated it. But with The Purge: Anarchy, writer/director James DeMonaco is hoping a more wide-scale view of his near-future distopia is more to your liking. Apparently he knows the deal, and wants to give moviegoers what they wanna see in this new sequel. Him-a culpa.
But is Anarchy any good? If you like your satire jet-black with tinges of red, you betcha. Class warfare, The Man as slaughter king, and shades of the Nuremberg Defense run rampant here. I for one found it a fascinating look at how far things could get out of hand if absolute power was vested in people who may not have everyone’s best interests at heart. In opening up the Purge landscape from a single house to the streets of LA, Anarchy gives us a taste of mayhem and the hopelessness of those who are unable to protect themselves. There’s also a heapin’ helpin’ of old-school horror here, with the usual tropes played out. In the Purge’s chaotic landscape, that’s comforting, and helps the film stay grounded rather than turning into an mish-mosh of aimless scenes.
It’s 2023, a year after the events of The Purge. The “New Founding Fathers” are showing signs that they’re as out of control as the Purge they hail as a method of peace. As you’d expect, Purge Night is unfairly balanced against the homeless and anyone else who can’t afford elaborate security systems. That the government has an ulterior motive shouldn’t be surprising, but it’s played out to detestable effect when the rich — possibly the untouchable Level 10? — have homeless and/or hapless citizens rounded up off the streets for their own behind-closed-doors bloodsport. Rumbles of resistance begin around the country. Meanwhile, 5 citizens try to survive the night:
- Sergeant (Frank Grillo), a man who lost his son last year in a horrible accident. He’s been waiting 12 months for payback. But when he sees people on the street being dragged out of their homes, can he sit by? Of course he can’t y’all.
- Working class woman Eva, and her headstrong daughter Cali who questions the “integrity” of the Purge (Carmen Ejogo and Zoe Soul). As their barely-safe-enough apartment complex gets attacked by what looks like an army, they must hit the streets.
- Couple Shane and Liz (played by real-life husband and wife Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez) are snarking at each other on the way to wait out Purge Night at Shane’s sister’s house. When their car breaks down minutes before the Purge begins, they have no choice but to run. Fast.
There’s also a group of black-clad stormtroopers in huge tractor-trailers that seem to have a lot of money at their disposal, those fat-cats I mentioned earlier, and people with surprising (and unsurprising) scores to settle. And let’s not forget the seriously creepy gang of masked Purge-ers that seem a bit too excited about Purge Night.
The Purge: Anarchy brings up ideas of how life would be in a society like the one in this film. You’d have to be nice to everyone, all the time…or else who knows what could come through your door on the one night anything is legal? Friends, family, co-workers, even that guy that says hi to you whenever you grab your daily coffee. Do you have a foolproof security system to protect yourself from those you’ve wronged? Are you sure? If not, you better be nice to everyone, all the time. I’m betting in this world security systems and ulcer meds are king. (If you want to start a conversation pre-Anarchy, I suggest reading HuffPo’s piece on what the original film can teach us. Good stuff.)
There’s hints of a third film, and I for one would love to see it. But more still, this mythology screams for a short-story anthology, or at least a series of webisodes. There’s so much more about the Purge’s mythology I’d like to know; what about folks too sick to leave a hospital — are medical staff locked in with those patients? If so, is there a moratorium on Purge-ing medical centers? Are you safe in the country, or on a farm surrounded by nobody…or would you be a sitting duck? So many questions. ‘Til there are answers, I guess I’ll just be glad that The Purge: Anarchy was thought-provoking — and downright disturbing – enough to make me consider these things in the first place.