A semi solid idea that becomes a film that attempts to be an horror/action film but ends up being so bad it’s a comedy. What do the brains behind the film industry do about it? Why, make a sequel of course. The Purge was directed by the same man as this one, James DeMonaco (Little New York), and starred DeMonaco’s muse Ethan Hawke along with Lena Headley of Game of Thrones fame. The story was an outrageous yet simple one about a wealthy family’s attempts to keep safe on the one night of the year in which all crime is legalized. With an interesting trailer the film looked like it had some potential. I was fooled. The entire thing was a mess and as such I thought we had seen the last of this idea. Fooled again.
Now director/screenwriter DeMonaco is back with a second kick at the very dented can. I can’t imagine why he was giving money to make another one as the first was less than successful on many levels. And yet here we are talking about The Purge: Anarchy.
Due to overcrowding in jails the American government has decided that the way to alleviate this strain on their resources is for once a year they allow a 12-hour period in which all crime is allowed. Do anything and there will be no one to stop you nor will there be any punishment. They stick with this because as a result crime is at an all-time low and the economy is doing well. The year is 2023 and the night of the Purge is upon American citizens.
Soon five people previously unknown to one another are going to depend on each other for their very survival. A young couple named Liz (played by Kiele Sanchez) and Shane (played by Zach Gilford) are driving to a sister’s house in Los Angeles in order to wait out the Purge. On the way they run out of gas just at the beginning of the Purge. The two are forced to run away from attackers on motorcycles and scooters. Leo Barnes (played by Frank Grillo) is a man with revenge on his mind. He heads out at the beginning of the Purge in order to find the man who killed his son. Eva (played by Carmen Ejogo) and Cali (played by Zoe Soul) are a mother and daughter who have had their apartment complex broken into by a group of attackers. The two are forced to flee to save themselves. Five strangers are brought together and now will work together in order to last the twelve hours of government sanctioned unlawful behaviour.
Unlike the first one which took place entirely within the confines of one house, this one takes place outdoors which you would think would loosen things up and allow for more possibilities. I don’t know why anyone would think this is going to be any different from the first. It is directed by the same person and written by the same person. Just because it happens outdoors won’t be enough to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
I really don’t understand how the people making these types of films think that we are going to enjoy stupid people making bad and nonsensical decisions time and time again. There has to be another way to set up horror/action films. For the love of Pete!
There is a vaguely interesting idea and social commentary attempted in that the film is trying to make the point of how the government is going about in the wrong way trying to contain its population. The potential behind that is lost completely due to the fact that the film just devolves into a mindless and gory slaughtering of innocent people for almost its entire screen time. DeMonaco’s unsteady hand and lack of focus ruins any chance of the message being heard as he keeps just cutting away to random people being killed in horrible ways. Just seems to be intent on making a mindless and gratuitously violent film.
The only positive thing I can say about this film is the performance of Frank Grillo as the grieving father. He instills plenty of humanity in a character that is the only one in the film that is not a complete idiot.
My advice is don’t see it unless you want a Purge 3. If it makes another $90 million at the box office like the first did expect more.
-Surviving the Night: The Making of The Purge