Movie Review: The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

purge anarchy masked men movie still

Sequel kicks it up a notch by going from the home invasion to out in the open for some fun, no-brainer, thrilling action

Actor Frank Grillo shows that he can perform in the leading role

This is not a direct sequel to the first film but the premise is the same where the rather bizarre Annual Purge is held every year in the US. In this 12 hours from 7pm to 7am, all crimes are allowed by law as a gift by the totalitarian government as a right for all citizens to “Purge” to “cleanse their own souls”. With the same director and writer James DeMonaco, The Purge has moved from home invasion horror to out in the open on the streets in Anarchy.

Frank Grillo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Grey, Warrior) plays a cool-headed, nothing-to-lose police sergeant who goes out on Purge night to seek revenge against someone who had accidentally killed his son while drunk driving a year ago. Unable to switch off his compassionate nature as a cop and ignore those in need, he saves a mother (Carmen Ejogo) and her daughter (Zoe Soul) along with a young couple (Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez) just when they are about to be Purged. He now has to continue his journey while protecting this bunch who did not intend to Purge at all. This was perhaps Grillo’s first mainstream breakthrough playing a lead character and he’s proved that not only he has charm and could act well, but he could make the righteous hero likable as well.

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So more characters this time with more very convenient moments to force the situation to be more engagingly interesting. Watching this film reminds me of how the zombie horror video game franchise series Resident Evil expand from being just in a mansion to out in the streets as well. It really does add a lot more fun following the central characters running around the streets to survive, and this premise could’ve been way more exciting as the people in the film aren’t supposed to be as predictable as zombies. There are another group of masked Purgers again but they’re no where as scary as the antagonists in the first film. This new bunch disabled their targeted victims’ car (the young couple mentioned) but somehow they still need to chase them around 2/3 of the film even though they were following them at the beginning with a van. Wasn’t there any other better idea to prolong the lives of these characters while making it logically thrilling?

Despite its lack of known actors, very cliched ending, typical plot conveniences and a few inconsistencies, this second instalment is far more enjoyable with its improvements over its predecessor film, surpassing in almost every aspect. The story, too, has gone a slightly deeper in the subject of this political system and the occasion which most citizens honour just because it’s created by their New Founding Fathers government. However, and I’m just saying, if the protagonist was as smart and well organised as he’s written to be, he would’ve just skipped work on that day, travel to his daughter’s killer’s house early in the morning and just wait there until 7pm to do his Purging.

Purge 2 Anarchy meme movie still

Just curious… How do the police or authorities clean up the entire nation after The Purge every year? How do you prove that a Purge is done during the period and not before or after? Why are there idiots who walk around the streets alone with only a short-range weapon? Why is everyone only killing? Is murdering or torturing innocent non-Purgers more honourable than stealing and raping in the film’s universe?

Censorship in Malaysia: Nothing seemed to be cut for the special screening held at TGV 1 Utama last Thursday. It’s not really that violent anyway, and nope, no rape scene again.

Second opinion: My girlfriend, who hadn’t watch the first one, said, “Can’t really remember much already but I quite liked it, very interesting concept.”

Verdict: Major improvements over the first film, but still doesn’t totally live up to the potential of its brilliant premise. Should give the license to the Japanese filmmakers to make a spinoff ’cause we can count on them when it comes to producing movies that can be very disturbingly sick.

Rating: 3 / 5

The Purge Anarchy posterGenre: Action thriller
Running Time: 103 minutes
Director-screenwriter: James DeMonaco
Cast: Frank Grillo, Zach Gilford, Michael K. Williams, Carmen Ejogo, Kiele Sanchez

Malaysia Release Date: 18 September 2014
Rated: 18
Local Distributor: United International Pictures (UIP Malaysia)
Production: Blumhouse Productions, Platinum Dunes

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