The Purge: Anarchy
Director: James DeMonaco (2014)
Starring: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Kiele Sanchez
Find it: IMDB
"Oh goody! A sequel to The Purge!" said no-one who had ever seen The Purge. Yet here it is - the inevitable sequel to a bad film with good ideas but a flawed execution; a great cast and strong ideas are wasted on a dull story, uninspired visuals and a lack of wit and invention. There's not much more of the latter on display in Anarchy, but almost everything else is vastly improved by moving the fight outdoors.
It's Purge Night, and we follow three groups of people as they attempt to survive; a lovely young couple and their broken car, a mother and daughter forced outside after their home is destroyed, and a mysterious gunman seeking revenge for the death of his son. This final individual makes all the difference - injecting a shot of competency into a franchise which could have just had its poor protagonists running around like victims waiting to die at the hands of nasty gangbangers. Frank Grillo's 'Sergeant' effectively drops The Punisher into the world of The Purge, making it the best sequel to War Zone never made.
If The Purge was a slick redo of The Strangers and other such grimy home invasion movies, then Anarchy is more inspired by The Warriors and its ilk. The bad guys might look like reject goons from a Joel Schumacher Batman movie, but they're vastly preferable to the smug shit of the previous film. Michael Kenneth Williams shows up briefly, but I suspect they may be saving most of him for the inevitable sequel. Now that The Purge has one half-good film under its belt, it might just have a shot at that franchise it so desperately wants to be.
Still, for all the action and genuine awesomeness, it's entirely obvious that The Purge still doesn't have anything of note to say. It has a killer conceit, but the whole thing feels about as political as the latest Hunger Games (if not less). Now that the series is back on track, it would be nice if they could maybe work on the mechanics of it all some more. Keep the explosions and the gangs though; don't get me wrong.
Anarchy is a good second step after a faltering start. Where it goes from here is anyone's guess, but we shouldn't count this franchise out just yet. Still, I did spend most of the film trying to work out ways I could make a hypothetical Purge work for me without getting killed in the process, so it's not as though it held my attention for, like, the whole time.