Posted July 19, 2014 by editor in Film Reviews

The Purge: Anarchy Review


In the not too distant future the United States has decreed that for a 12 hour period on a marked day – any citizen can take part in the Purge. This is a window of opportunity for anyone to unleash the devil from within and commit just about any crime (Including murder) upon any citizen (Government officials excluded). This “Purge” has resulted in the country having a very reduced crime rate.

But not everyone out there wants to take part in said activity and have to resort to locking themselves in as best they can to avoid any trouble.

That didn’t work quite so well for the protagonists of the first movie – which saw Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey and their family battle off a gang of intruders in what was pretty much a home invasion horror movie.

James DeMonaco returns as writer director – and impressively he has decided to go down a different route for the sequel. This time he exchanges the claustrophobia of the home for the stillness of the outdoor air on the streets.

We follow three different sets of protagonists. A young couple (Zack Gilford and Kiele Sanchez) on the very of a breakdown whose car then actually, er, breaks down just before the start of the Purge, and are pursued by masked attackers. A mother (Carmen Ejogo) and her daughter (Zoe Soul) are accosted within their apartment and have to take to the streets to fend for themselves, only to be grabbed by a military unit. Into the fray comes loner and grieving father Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) who managed to save the group and the five of them end up on the run together with all manner of enemies closing in on them.

This first sequel to the Purge plays off often like a mix up of The Warriors, Judgement Night and even Escape From LA (Yes, I meant to say that one). Our team literally have one obstacle after another to face off against or evade.

It’s clear from the get go that certain characters within the group have their agenda for the evening which creates drama within the group as well as a dialogue about the Purge itself and whether it is of any use to anyone. This is expanded further but the different social and work groups that seek to cause them harm.

Some groups have perhaps different motives than what you may first think. Sometimes it isn’t personal at all and is merely a work agenda – and a brush against high society sees the film turn, hilariously, into the The Running Man for a brief spell.

The film works because it has a dependable cast on hand. Grillo may not be the tallest of tough guys – but he’s put in some strong antagonist work in dramas (The Grey) and action vehicles (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Homefront) thusfar, so it is nice to see him land a lead good guy role for a change.

DeMonaco also shoots the city night time with that street lamp sulphurous glow that adds to the menace to each of the settings. The fact that he banged this script and movie out in under a year is impressive and should please fans of the original as well as welcome in anyone new to the idea.

The Purge was a bit of a sleeper hit last year for Universal. Perhaps we are in for another Saw, Paranormal Activity type of franchise that releases one a year for the next few years. The idea and genre fit the bill. But if that idea sounds a little cynical we have to impress the fact here that The Purge: Anarchy is much more confident and easily a better film that it’s originator.

4 Stars



Steven Hurst