How do you take the purge formula, then use it to enhance the experience overall? Well, you turn it into an action film. When you combine the boring horrific nature of the original Purge film from 2013 and combine it with a poor action film like Shooter, what do you get? The Purge: Anarchy. The good part is that it does work quite well overall for the film and actually makes for an exciting watch. The bad part though is that it faces the same issues that the original film did, in not being engaging enough or having anything that would make it stand out. Let’s talk more in-depth about The Purge: Anarchy.
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The Movie Review
The Purge: Anarchy is first and foremost, a revenge film. At least it’s supposed to be, though it does pivot towards a different overall story as the film progresses. Leo Barnes is an army veteran, he used to be a Sergeant before his son was murdered during a Purge. Now, with nothing else to do in life; Leo swears vengeance upon his son’s killers and devices a vigilante plan to exact his revenge during the chaos of the Purge.
A married couple, on the other hand, Shane and Liz, find themselves caught out in the open streets right as the Purge commences and become adequate targets for the purgers. The stories intertwine, as Leo’s revenge mission severely gets backlogged as he becomes the savior for a group of survivors, who desperately need his help to see the light of day.
James DeMonaco understands the things that were missing from the original Purge film, and he brings those in this installment of the saga full throttle. The action isn’t too great though, it’s blandly choreographed and is very shaky throughout the film’s runtime. However, when combined with more intense moments, it does shine bright.
The raw footage quality of the action sequences makes for a unique viewing experience, though the film still suffers from pacing issues a lot. The film is actually quite ambitious in its storytelling, with the script being very well written for the most part. However, translated to screen it doesn’t hit as hard because that unusual ambition just comes out as too much happening.
The film tries to be very smart in being a critical satire on violence, yet it falls short because it’s never quite as resonant as it should be. The protagonist of Leo Barnes’ motivation is quite clear, his actions also resonate with those intentions. However, the rest of the characters are just devices to pull out a more human element from Leo. They don’t really have their own story to tell, aside from a few exceptions.
Frank Grillo plays the lead character beautifully, with his performance being by far his career-best. His character is a broken shell of a man at the beginning of the film, and then through an introduction to multiple different characters, he becomes responsible for people other than his dead child.
This is a massive improvement over the first film, which basically had characters living and dying and that was all there was. The rest of the performances aren’t too great though, Zach Gilford as Shane and Kiele Sanchez as Liz are pretty bad through the movie, while Carmen Ejogo as Eva Sanchez is just decent to good.
It doesn’t really have an identity of its own still, it’s a film that tries to combine multiple different forms of filmmaking. May it be a thriller, a political satire, a horror film, or an action movie: nothing feels meshed together that well. The good aspects of the film definitely outweigh the bad though, which are that this film is fun to watch, it’s got tons of actions and it does have some form of horror. It delivers on its promises of an exciting film. And while it still is far from engaging for the entirety of its runtime, The Purge: Anarchy is actually a huge improvement over the first installment.