Overview: Another night where all crime is legal but for some reason people only resort to murder. Universal Pictures; Rated R; 103 minutes.
Purge Your Expectations: When a small horror movie is made for 3 million dollars and makes almost 30 times that at the box office, you’re going to get a sequel. That’s what happened with last year’s The Purge, a home invasion thriller with an outlandish concept in the back, but a focus on generic home-invasion thrills. And I mean really generic. The Purge wasn’t the worst movie of 2013 but it had some of the stupidest characters of its respective year. The concept itself is pretty far out there but so is John Carpenter’s Escape from New York or Assault on Precinct 13. I bring those movies up because Anarchy clearly draws inspiration from those movies – a group of people trying to survive a night against a seemingly endless amount of criminals. It has more in common with Escape from LA than New York but it also gets to expand on ideas that were in the background of the previous movie.
Class warfare and population control are touched upon some more, but only touched upon. The violence onscreen doesn’t actually build upon the ideas other than “Look how violent people get when anarchy reins!”, but it isn’t supported appropriately with any deeper meaning. Is the film trying to say we’re all just murderous psychopaths when rules disappear? A 12 hour period where all crime is legal. All crime. Legal. I have trouble believing nobody thought of different laws to break besides committing various acts and degrees of murder. There are so many opportunities for different types of crimes that the “mass murder” set up seems so boring. What about bank robberies? Gay marriage? Is this how OJ got away with it? Or what about airports with foreigners in them? Do they become open for “purging” as well? Once logic enters the mix, the entire foundation of the movie is ruined.
So Why Do I Recommend It?: The horror genre is filled with more bad than good, and this falls more toward the good. Anarchy at least tries to be better. Director James DeMonaco heard the outcry of disappointed horror fans from the first movie (Not defending it, but there’s only so much you can do with a 3 million dollar budget) and decided to ignore the horror elements and turned this into an action thriller. It shows the director is willing to evolve and improve upon past work.
Frank Grillo steals the entire movie. The entire cast is much more likable this time (Simply being likable and competent helps) but Grillo finally proves his leading man chops here. He’s the anti-hero with a heart of gold. On paper the character isn’t wholly memorable but Grillo adds a classic Clint Eastwood vibe to the role. It’s a damn shame he can’t play The Punisher for Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.