Synopsis: The New Founders of America invite you to celebrate your annual right
to Purge. The Purge: Anarchy, the sequel to summer 2013’s sleeper hit
that opened to No. 1 at the box-office, sees the return of
writer/director James DeMonaco to craft the next terrifying chapter of
dutiful citizens preparing for their country’s yearly 12 hours of
Release Date: July 18, 2014 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Horror, Thriller
Last year, The Purge confounded the movie industry. It made a lot of money at the box office, but received mostly poor reviews from critics and fans alike. However, because the movie business is, first and foremost, a business, the profitable film was given a sequel. Unfortunately, The Purge: Anarchy is even worse than the first film.
The Purge: Anarchy takes place in the same near-futuristic world as The Purge; once a year, all laws are suspended for twelve hours and the citizens of America are allowed to legally take out their aggressions on each other. Right before the onset of the Purge, recently separated couple Shane (Zach Gilford from Devil’s Due and “Friday Night Lights”) and Liz (A Perfect Getaway‘s Kiele Sanchez) find themselves trapped outside in a dangerous part of town when their car breaks down. Once the mayhem begins, a young woman named Eva (Carmen Ejogo from Alex Cross) and her daughter, Cali (Zoe Soul from Prisoners) are chased from the safety of their apartment when the complex is raided by a small army of well-equipped purgers. Meanwhile, a mysterious loner (Warriorâs Frank Grillo) voluntarily ventures out into the night on a very personal mission of vengeance. Fate brings the five people together, and they are forced to depend on each other to survive the night. However, even the purgers who stalk and pursue them are not exactly what they seem to be. Everyone has their own motivations for what they do during the night.
The premise behind The Purge is such a solid and intriguing one that it seems as if the original film could have spawned a ton of sequels; applying the concept of a night of lawlessness to different characters in different situations could keep the franchise going for years. The problem with The Purge: Anarchy is that writer/director James DeMonaco (who, in addition to The Purge, also wrote Assault on Precinct 13 and The Negotiator) packs every single sequel idea into the same movie. Showing how a poor, less-secure location would fare during the Purge? Check. Showing unwilling people trapped amongst the chaos? Check. Following the purgers around? Check. There are even subplots involving a resistance to the Purge and a group of wealthy folks who have their own way of purging. All of the different scenarios weigh the film down, even when DeMonaco’s script makes its clumsy attempt to tie them all together.
With all that seems to be going on during The Purge: Anarchy, it’s surprising that it’s not a more interesting film. Whereas The Purge was a very contained thriller, the sequel opens the world up, and that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, the story gets so convoluted that it just ends up being dull. There are long stretches of talking that attempt to justify what is happening onscreen, but these dialogues only serve to slow down the film. None of the characters are developed fully, so the audience doesn’t feel any empathy with them; their lives are in mortal danger from the get-go, but the lack of identification with the audience gives the viewer more of a voyeuristic experience rather than a vicarious one. The entire film is an exercise in the obvious; not only is much of the exposition set out on a plate for the audience to digest, but the political analogy is much more on-the-nose than it was in the first film, just in case viewers of The Purge missed the class struggle metaphor the last time around. The Purge: Anarchy doesn’t let the audience figure anything out for themselves, which only adds insult to the injury inflicted by the dull mess of a film.
The story may not be entirely engaging, but the cinematography of The Purge: Anarchy gets its point across well. It was shot by Jacques Jouffret who, although he also shot The Purge, is primarily known as a Steadicam operator who has worked on several of Michael Bay’s movies. His Steadicam experience is very evident in the look and feel of The Purge: Anarchy. Most of the action takes place out in the streets, and Jouffret’s camera takes the viewer right into the middle of the purging. Most of the photography involves movement of some kind, with the camera either shooting handheld or mounted on a Steadicam, giving the film a frantic, anything-can-happen vibe. The camera is turned into another character as the purgers and victims make their way throughout the city. The results are not as nauseating as a found-footage film, but the shots are definitely rough. It’s a very effective way of presenting the more active sections of the film, and Jouffret’s style makes the cinematography one of the stronger aspects of the film.
Like The Purge before it, The Purge: Anarchy is light on actual scares. The concept of the Purge is disturbing, and that’s where any fear that may be inspired by the film comes from. There’s plenty of haunting imagery in the picture, but it’s all set design. For example, at one point the hero group drives past a blood-soaked girl who stares blankly into their car, seemingly traumatized by what she has seen and had done to her. In another scene, the group finds the body of a dead stock broker left at the entry to his building as a warning to other corrupt bankers. These moments are chilling, but have little to do with the actual plot. While the thoughts and ideas that surround The Purge: Anarchy might scare an audience, the film itself is more action and drama than screams and squeals.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): James DeMonaco
- Screenwriter(s): James DeMonaco
- Cast: Frank Grillo (Sergeant)Carmen Ejogo (Eva Sanchez)Zach Gilford (Shane) Kiele Sanchez (Liz)Zoe Soul (Cali)
- Editor(s): Vince Filippone
- Cinematographer: Jacques Jouffret
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Nathan Whitehead
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA