Exclusive Review: THE PURGE: ANARCHY (2014){0}

Anarchy in the USA

Despite having a good time with 2012’s The Purge and finding it a bit more satirically compelling than most studio horror flicks, my main “gripe” about the film was simple: why introduce such a clever concept – that all crime is legal in America for 12 hours – and then stick your entire story inside of one house? What started as a novel piece of dark sci-fi turned into an entertaining but pretty familiar story of “lock the doors, bolt the windows, and fend of all invaders.”

Well, it sure seems like writer/director James DeMonaco not only heard that (rather prevalent) complaint, but probably even agrees with it, because The Purge: Anarchy expands the “crime is temporarily legal” concept in all sorts of juicy ways; a few you’ll see coming… and, at the film’s best moments, a few you might not. Boasting an “all in one night” action/suspense package that’s craftily delivered through the combination of three disparate plot threads, The Purge: Anarchy might be a full-bore B-movie all the way, but it’s also a rather entertaining one.

The sequel not only stays out of suburban homes for long periods of time; it refuses to stay anywhere for more than 29 seconds — because if your goal is to make a movie that evokes films like The Warriors, Escape from New York, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Running Man, it only makes sense to keep the story moving at a brisk clip. And even when Purge 2 does slow down, we’re presented with a surprisingly strong cast. Our ragtag team of survivors becomes “root-worthy” almost immediately. Gruff leader Frank Grillo and the sweet yet strong Carmen Ejogo make for a fascinating action flick “odd couple,” which gives the film a sense of novelty even during its most familiar moments.

The “social satire” angle of The Purge: Anarchy is hardly its strongest asset, but it does manage to give a wild premise a necessary dash of credibility. The Purge: Anarchy is simply at its best when it’s on the move. Fortunately for all involved, the flick spends about 80% of its running time in full-bore “let’s get the hell outta here” mode.


Scott Weinberg (@scottEweinberg)