I said in my “Dawn of the Planet of Apes” review that quote, “In the great history of sequels it is shown that it can be difficult to be as good as if not better than your predecessor .” I proceeded to name off a number of classic sequels that could be included on that list. I continued on to say that “Dawn of the Apes” could be included in that same list as well. Well, in a much more smaller degree “The Purge: Anarchy” could also be put under such a phase. By no means does it join the classic list of sequels that I’ve listed off in that review. The first “Purge” came out on June 7th, 2013. It had an interesting premise that it failed to deliver on its potential. Yet still, I did not hate it like many other viewers did. I think it provides some good B-movie, guilty pleasure thrills, that is not unlike some of John Carpenter’s older works.
It’s 2014 sequel, coming out just a year later, “The Purge: Anarchy” seemed like a mostly unwanted addition to this year’s list of sequels. Yet still when your film is on such a small budget like “The Purge” was, it’s easy to see why it got a sequel. The first film costed only 3 million dollars to produce. It then went on to gross worldwide almost 90 million dollars. Now that’s profit.
I came away being pleasantly surprised by this new sequel. It still doesn’t quite reach the heights that a movie with this premise should have, this is still nonetheless a big improvement over the first film. Better characters, and a larger scope story is most of the improvements. This still has its share of stupid moments, nevertheless more of what we wanted in the first movie.
“The Purge: Anarchy” gives us, what starts off, as three separate stories that eventually converge on this one night a year where murder is legal for 12 hours. One couple on the verge of divorce, has their car break down and a group of people start hunting them in the city. Meanwhile a mother and daughter get unwillingly pulled out of their apartment by a group of heavily armed soldiers into the mean streets of LA. Then a lone man out for revenge on becomes, to his annoyance, the protector of these two groups as they both try to survive for 12 hours.
One of the issues with the first film is that it had these wide and big ideas that could be something a lot more than what was presented. The first entry was confined to one couple’s home on the night of the purge and really became a cheap slasher home invasion flick that didn’t make good use of its premise. Still I got a kick out of some of it but yet even still, wanted a lot more out this idea. “Anarchy” does start in that path by bringing us out into the mean streets of Los Angeles. This allows us to really get a look at what’s really going on in the purge. We see the horror and the brutal nature of what a night like this does to people. Some of this really makes us feel helpless as we watch the mayhem unfold. It does provide some fun conversation with friends on how you might survive the night of the purge.
Even though we got more of what we wanted, I still feel like there could been more. Show some random acts of violence in other parts of the city or the country, people looting, fighting, you know the, the joys of life. Although we got more of it (which I am happy for) there still could be more shown with an idea like this. I understand with its small budget it makes it difficult, and if this is as grand as we’ll get with this premise than I’m happy with that. As I’ve mentioned before, I enjoy the B-Movie thrills this series provides, even if sometimes it has clear aspirations of being something more.
This is also better written than its predecessor. It juggles more characters. The Sergeant, played by Frank Grillo, is a lost soul that just wants vengeance on this night. Carmen Ejogo’s Eva Sanchez brings out the humanity in this good man gone bad and their character interplay is fun to watch on screen. The daughter of Eva, Cali played by Zoë Soul, does help provide a bit more insight into the politics of the new America. The other couple is Shane and Liz, played respectively by Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez. These characters seem kind of thrown in there as “the horror movie couple” but they are serviceable but not really necessary character additions.
The film is longer than its predecessor by a little less than 15 minutes. I feel as though there is more build up then last time (although I don’t have number figures to back that up) and it was at just the perfect length. When I was starting to think, “okay the story might be starting to drag”, it ends. It has good pacing and writer/director James DeMonaco’s skills have improved over his last film and while sometimes he can get sloppy behind the camera, he does have his own style that works well with this film.
So “The Purge: Anarchy” is a much more refined sequel than the first entry. It has more of what we want, along with better character writing, story, and setting. This is still a sloppy movie at times and also sometimes forgets what it is and aims higher than the budget seems to allow for. Nonetheless, like the first one, this is a good and fun B-movie that carries on the tradition of some B-movies from the 1970s era of film. I wouldn’t mind seeing a third one and hopefully the series continues to improve.