Last year director James DeMonaco caused a bit of a stir over at Universal with his surprise futuristic horror hit, The Purge. Now, just a year later, he’s returned with a sequel that’s superior in almost every single way, acting as an effective blend of action and slick science fiction horror. The Purge: Anarchy is DeMonaco building and progressing rather quickly as a writer and director, with a script that’s layered, polished and much tighter than its predecessor. Frank Grillo stars in what is definitely this summer’s biggest surprise.
The year is 2023. A new law has been passed, allowing citizens of the United States one night, for twelve hours, to kill or do whatever they please. Those that do not wish to participate may lock their doors and hide, while the rest of the nation purges out their demons that have been building up over the past year. This new sadistic law has resulted in nearly no poverty and a nonexistent crime rate. This also strengthens the line between the rich and the poor, leaving the upper-class well-protected and secure on this brutal night, while the less fortunate are left defenseless and without much hope.
This is also a night for redemption, as one man (Frank Grillo) seeks revenge on the man who killed his innocent son some time ago. This man has chosen to put the law into his own hands, in hopes of serving up the long overdue justice that has been hanging over a drunk that got off on a technicality.
This is also a night that a mother, a daughter, plus a troubled couple get caught in the middle of the purge, with absolutely no intentions of participating.
Almost right out of the gate James DeMonaco‘s quickly greenlit sequel establishes itself as something much more layered and complex than last year’s disappointing horror flick that took the country by storm. The Purge was a decent, but far from memorial debut for the director. DeMonaco crafted a quick and mostly lifeless horror flick that some deemed effective, while others (me included) considered it a slow and tame home invasion horror flick that was based off of an interesting premise, but filled with dull and downright annoying characters.
The Purge: Anarchy isn’t as much of a horror movie as it is a straight-up action sci-fi. Now, DeMonaco has filmed his film full of interesting characters and multiple plots that all slowly blend together, creating this summer’s biggest surprise yet. Anarchy is one third horror, one third action and one third science fiction, mixing DeMonaco’s crazy premise with actual characters with actual motives.
Frank Grillo‘s shady revenger is the film’s focus point, but he’s surrounded by four strong supporting characters that give the film plenty of perspective and depth. Grillo is pretty much playing a variation of The Punisher and he does so with a cold and remorseless approach that should definitely spark Marvel’s interest whenever they plan on rebooting the film series or creating their own TV show. Grillo’s character is simply a sad father looking to seek revenge for his son, while also facing his own morality head on.
Watching Grillo take what could have been another cookie-cutter character and completely change it into his own is both exciting and bad ass on so many levels. Grillo’s got the looks and the acting chops to sell the character, but also make you question if what he is doing is right or wrong, even given the evening’s circumstances.
DeMonaco also wisely structures the film around other peoples’ perspectives on the evening’s festivities and if the new law does more bad than good for the people of the nation. DeMonaco spends enough time exposing almost every single type of character, from the crazed psychopaths to the innocent parents all getting caught up in the mix of the annual purge.
The Purge: Anarchy‘s only real fault lies within the film’s overly political agenda, with a constant nagging from an anti-purge group that adds absolutely nothing to the film’s effectiveness, aside from appearing as too on-the-nose and downright forced by the film’s shootout finale. This brief, but extremely irritating plot point holds The Purge: Anarchy back from becoming a truly great film.
Still, the film is really good. DeMonaco has created a sequel that is miles better than the original film in every single way. The Purge: Anarchy is an exciting piece of modern sci-fi, mixed with enough fun action to clap your hands over, while also turning things on themselves and becoming something creative and yet slightly frightening.
The Purge: Anarchy is the biggest surprise of the summer and one of the better sequels to ever follow such a boring first effort. James DeMonaco‘s The Purge was a decent horror thriller at its very best, while The Purge: Anarchy is a highly effective slice of action, mixed evenly with some horror and sci-fi elements to keep the film feeling fresh and exciting and never too repetitive. DeMonaco has definitely progressed rather quickly as a filmmaker, flipping this sequel out just a short year after the last one hit theaters, which proves that not all sequels turn out pointless or rushed.
The Purge: Anarchy – 8/10