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The Purge: Anarchy: Movie review

After 90 minutes at the drive in, I made it through Lucy. After a quick  run to the restroom, I was back in my car and ready for the second feature of the night, The Purge: Anarchy.

Being that The Purge: Anarchy is a sequel, I didn’t set my hopes too high, but I was still plenty excited about it since I enjoyed the first one, and was curious to see how they were to going to take the premise of the 2013 film and build on it.

From the commotion on the grapevine – or lack thereof – The Purge (2013) didn’t do so well financially or with the critics. I didn’t hear any smack talking, but I also didn’t hear of anyone talking it up or rushing out to see it. I enjoyed the first film nonetheless, and took it for the movie it was.

Purgers and Hunters, from "The Purge: Anarchy" (2014)
Purgers and Hunters, from “The Purge: Anarchy” (2014)

For those who haven’t see either, The Purge and The Purge: Anarchy take place in the not so distant future, in the years 2022 and 2023, respectively. The U.S. is governed by “The New Founding Fathers” and every year starting on March 21, all crime is completely legal* (including theft, rape, and murder) for 12 hours (7PM March 21st – 7AM March 22nd). There are a few exceptions however, such as not being allowed to use anything over a “Class 4” weapon, which isn’t defined. The big exception is that it is still illegal to target certain government officials. Bullshit, right? This period of lawlessness is called the purge.

In this world, crime, unemployment, and other societal ills have dropped to astonishingly low levels, by U.S. standards. In The Purge (2013), it’s generally accepted that the purge is creditable for these changes. The argument in the first installation is: Do the ends justify the means? Is it worth it? Is letting people take out their aggression on others without reprimand acceptable?

Purging sacrifice
Purging sacrifice, “The Purge: Anarchy” (2014)

In The Purge: Anarchy, the moral quagmire is that the purge isn’t just the government’s way of letting people blow off steam, but that it is in fact designed to reduce the population of people society deems undesirable. Those who are weak and defenseless, the poor, the sick, the elderly, and anyone else unable to defend themselves during the 12 hour onslaught make easy pickings for the hordes of “purgers”. The rich, with their fortress style mansions (explained in the 2013 film), and private security, are practically untouchable. Naturally, government officials (class 10 or higher) have exempted themselves from the annual purge.

The Anarchy touches up on issues of class warfare, racism, greed, genocide, and a plethora of other issues and cleverly dresses them up as an action/suspense movie.

Audiences probably noticed there was no Ethan Hawk in this movie. It was a sequel, but the film centers around an entirely new lineup of cast and characters. It takes places a year after the first events. Whereas the first movie took place in white bread Suburbia, Anarchy takes place in a completely difference setting: Urban America.

I knew nothing of the cast before I watched the film. Once the movie picked up the pace, I immediately recognized Frank Grillo (Captain America: Winter Soldier, Prison Break). Grillo does an amazing job playing a grieving father whose son was killed, who is looking to enact his revenge on the night of the purge. He carries most of the major action scenes and shoot outs, and keeps the story grounded.

Frank Grillo in "The Purge: Anarchy" (2014)
Frank Grillo in “The Purge: Anarchy” (2014)

There is a couple on the edge of divorce that gets stranded in the middle of the city shortly before the beginning of the purge. Call me paranoid, but if I lived in this world, I probably wouldn’t leave my house on March 21, and if I did it’s because I was hundreds of miles in the middle of nowhere in a bunker, and armed to the teeth – or in Canada.

We also have a mother and daughter. The mother is harmless, and hardworking to support her family. Her daughter, despite having good intentions and probably being the most morally incorruptible of the cast, had me shouting “Shut the fuck up!” every couple minutes throughout the entire movie. Luckily you can scream out loud when you’re in your own car.

All said and done, it was definitely an entertaining, nail biting, thought provoking, and worthwhile film. Anarchy was to The Purge, as Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones was to the prior Paranormal films in the franchise. Each of the latest incarnations taking on more of an urban, gritty tone.

Was it enjoyable? Absolutely. Not only was it as good as the first movie, but it was better and very different. Will The Purge franchise turn into the next Saw or Paranormal Activity, where audiences can expect a new sequel every year? Will the studio use the backdrop of the annual purge to address other societal concern and controversial issues? For enjoyability, I give this movie a solid A.

Did it deliver what it advertised? The trailers were a little misleading, and omitted a lot of the finer points of the movie. Did it deliver as advertised? Yes, it did, and much more. Again, Anarchy gets an A.

Would I see it again? I might buy the DVD, but not the Bluray. Given the chance I would definitely watch this movie again, and would gladly welcome a third installment.

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