With such an intriguing premise, “The Purge” franchise gave it another shot. As referred to in the film as the “holiday” or “commencement,” the annual Purge is a government sanctioned 12-hour legalization of crime. The idea is to reduce crime and unemployment rates by getting rid of the poor and more specifically the homeless. At least that’s the basic premise I take away from it. Truth be told, neither film explained much of anything. “The Purge” limited the interesting premise to a simple home invasion movie. At the very least, the sequel added a capable lead actor, and took the audience into the streets during the Purge.
I love what Frank Grillo has done with his career, and have enjoyed watching him grow as an actor. He has great supporting performances in “Warrior,” “The Grey” and most recently “Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier.” With “The Purge: Anarchy,” Grillo finally earned an opportunity for a leading role.
To his credit, Grillo did the best he could with the weak and sloppy writing of the sequel. The writers didn’t give his character any development or much of a back story. We assume he has a military background, and his character is listed as “Sergeant” in the credits because someone calls him that during the film. Is that his name? Was that his rank in the military? Did the character who called him that just brand him that nickname? As an audience, we have no idea. All we know is that someone killed a member of his family, and he will seek revenge during the Purge.
Despite his character’s lack of depth, Grillo’s presence on screen made the movie worth watching. His acting talent gave quality to an otherwise lackluster film. He served as the sole reason I didn’t regret seeing this film, and would love to see him back for the third installment.
I also enjoyed seeing the purging in downtown Los Angeles instead of simply watching people trying to break into a house. “The Purge: Anarchy” provides us with of an in-depth look of what happens during the Purge. It made the sequel more entertaining, but that’s where the positives stop.
The negatives are all encompassed by one problem – “The Purge: Anarchy” has no idea what film it wants to be. I can’t categorize it. It has elements of horror, including jump scares. It throws political themes out there without explaining them. It has potential as an intelligent thriller, but doesn’t take the time to explore ideas. It includes pure action sequences. However, it never steers in a specific direction. It just throws all its themes and genres at the audience in one movie that’s less than two hours. So the movie is appropriately titled “The Purge: Anarchy” not because of the chaos that ensues during the film, but because the disorder of the script.
The Bottom Line: With quality lead acting and the broadening of the landscape of the annual event, “The Purge: Anarchy” improves on its predecessor, but fails to discover into which genre it fits. With a low production budget, the franchise continues to profit, and will most likely give us a third film…stay safe.
I’ll give “The Purge: Anarchy” 2 out of 5 cups:
As of July 22, “The Purge: Anarchy” made a domestic total of approximately $37 million versus a production budget of $9 million, according to Box Office Mojo.
To see the movie trailer for “The Purge: Anarchy,” click here.