(2014) Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford
Being one of the few people who enjoyed the original film I went into this sequel expecting good action horror and a simple plot, I was half right. The Purge: Anarchy has detached itself from all the original characters and now offers a glimpse of the terror and chaos that ensues on the city streets during these terrifying 12 hours in future America.
Frank Grillo plays moody hardman Sergeant out to seek revenge on his son's killer during the annual Purge; however his journey is interrupted as he decides to help a mother/daughter and girlfriend/boyfriend foursome who have accidentally been forced out onto the blood soaked streets. I assumed that the film would be a straight up series of chases, killings and jump scares until the film's Purge timer had elapsed, what I got however was a rather clever character driven thriller with a fair few plot twists and multiple themes.
The film did a great job of starting with a simple premise and then complicating the plot, building tension and throwing new scenarios at the characters. The characters were mostly forgettable however, Sergeant was so much better at killing people than any of the villains on the street that I never once felt like the other characters were in danger as long as they were close to him. The only times they were hurt was due to their own error or a clique 'you go ahead i'll hold them off' moment. The star of the film for me was a revolutionary type character that was not even shown in any of the trailers or marketing, he had a great reveal moment towards the climax. A lot of other films and media was given nods to, especially towards the final battle against the sadistic rich 'hunters' who had captured Sergeant and his crew. Everything from The Running Man, Hostel and even video game nasty Manhunt were lending subtle touches and idea but the film used them in the right ways and didn't rely solely on borrowing. Critics of the original film I think will be more on board with this sequel because it broadens it's scope on 'The Purge' as a concept, you get to see a lot of violence happening to a lot of different people. Some of it harrowing but some of it being eye-roll worthy, the gore was a big disappointment and was done using entirely CGI. BAD CGI.
If you enjoyed the original film there is a lot to like about it's sequel, if you were not an original fan there is still an entertaining thriller to be found here. The plot isn't afraid to deliberately catch you off guard and throw a few twists in here and there. Despite a few silly moments from characters and ancient looking effects The Purge: Anarchy isn't your typical mindless violent romp and can provide surprisingly thrilling moments during its bumpy chaos fuelled ride.