UNIVERSAL PICTURES (2014)

Director: James DeMonaco

Starring: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Zoe Soul

The Purge: Anarchy takes us onto the Purge-fuelled streets of Los Angeles, and into a bigger world than the solitary house of the first movie – and the movie benefits because of it. Whilst the first movie set up the premise, it became a cat-and-mouse game as it focused on the Sandins in their home, as the rest of the country swallowed itself in retribution.

The Purge: Anarchy takes us onto the streets and expands the world we heard about in the original. It’s grittier, more primal and lets us see first-hand the full, terrifying chaos of the event.

Frank Grillo gets the chance to lead a production and does well as the dark tempered vigilante, who is thrust into the position of taking on unwanted passengers on his mission. His brooding, Punisher-like character leads the proceedings nicely.

The rest of the supporting cast provide decent performances, though the character of Cali is a weak link with her socially-aware demeanour and idealistic rants during the film. The main flaw with the characters is, with the exception of Grillo (and possibly Eva) all of the protagonists feel underdeveloped. Each main character is given a chance to have their story explored, but to an extent that isn’t so important with this movie.

Drawing on the theme of the original, masked villains return – this time, gone are the suits and flowy dresses, in come the gang wear, crudely painted faces with messages adorning them. The gangs feel more legitimate, therefore more chilling and a genuine threat as they roam their territory. Not just the gangs, the villains of the piece are the rich and affluent, bidding at auctions for lower-class Purge victims, clearly showing the divide and the real purpose of the Purge event. The message in the film is very clear – the class struggle and wealth distribution, as well as gun control – that according to DeMonaco, America is hurtling towards this dystopian realm. The Purge: Anarchy unashamedly clobbers you over the head with its message, but that’s the aim of the director.

There’s a washed look throughout the film, maybe down to budget but probably down to the visual desire of DeMonaco, the film doesn’t have the glossy feel of big budget Hollywood films, and yes, this does help the atmosphere of the film, it makes it more tangible. The movie is packed with great imagery, the bright lights of the cityscapes, the face painted warriors, the affluent parties and the looming video screens over the darkened cities below them. The production team have really gone for a movie which leaves you with images as you finish viewing.

The Purge: Anarchy delivers a better, more satisfying movie than the original The Purge, allowing for the mythology created to be expanded on and bought to a less solitary environment. Though it brings even more unsubtle messages throughout than the first movie, The Purge: Anarchy is a good watch and a sequel that just steps over it’s predecessor.

September 23rd 2016

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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