Something of a sleeper hit last year The Purge presented an interesting premise with a poor execution. Rather than focus on the world created it instead dipped into clichéd home-invasion territory without ever offering anything of interest, originality or substance.
The Purge: Anarchy therefore should be something to excite given it moves out of the single house location and on to the mean-streets of Los Angels during the annual Purge. With the New Founding Fathers announcing another population killing-spree all manner of scum and villainy take to the streets to kill, maim, rape, steal and anything else untoward. Those more law-abiding citizens baton down the hatches and pray for daybreak.
But on this night a collection of do-gooders including single-mum Eva (Carmen Ejogo), her lippy daughter Cali (Zoë Soul), along with bickering couple Shane (Zach Gifford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez) find themselves stranded outside while all hell breaks loose around them. Coming to their rescue is Leo (Frank Grillo) a tooled-up, one-man army who was on his way to ‘purge’ someone in his life. But can they all survive the night, will Cali convince Leo that purging is bad or will the masked men working for “Big Daddy” track them down and kill them all?
There is something distinctly John Carpenter about the ideas behind The Purge: Anarchy. That grimy Assault on Precinct 13 meets Escape From New York. Throw-in Grillo’s gravel-voiced anti-hero, who is one of the few highlights on offer here, and you could easily have taken this concept, had Grillo play Snake Pliskin and made yourself a reboot-come-remake of Carpenter’s Escape. Alas Anarchy lacks the real Grindhouse aesthetics of a true Carpenter film.
The gore feels like a shoddy, slapped on afterwards CGI splatter. The narrative is almost none-existence and in Michael K. Williams’ anti-Purge freedom fighter you have a deus ex machina always lurking in the background. When he finally shows up to aid our heroes, only one of whom is likable enough to need rescuing, out of their otherwise doomed situation it doesn’t elicit a cheer but a groan of predictability.
If anything this feels like a step-back from the original film. Rather than upping the ante Anarchy loses any tension and horror replacing it with cardboard characters and set pieces you’ve seen countless times before and done infinitely better. You can blame the budget for some of it but the lack of anything resembling a story rests solely on the script which feels phoned-in rather than thought-out.
Another waste of a solid concept in the franchise, The Purge: Anarchy, like its title suggests, is disorderly and chaotic in all the wrong ways.