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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

The Purge: Anarchy (2014)


Thankfully, I’d still have my Dorothy Doors. Nobody’d ever look down one of them.

It’s the year 2023 in America and it’s Purge Night. This means that the government is allowing everyone and anyone to go out there, commits all sorts of crime, for a certain amount of time, without any police authority ever taking control. Sounds ideal for those nut-balls out there in the world, but for the common-folk who don’t enjoy killing people – it’s a bit of a disaster. On this one night in particular, we follow three stories: a couple (Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez) whose car accidentally breaks down on the road, moments before the Purge actually begins; a mother (Carmen Ejogo) and daughter (Zoe Soul) who are kidnapped by a bunch of men dressed in SWAT uniforms for unknown reasons; and a lone, silent man (Frank Grillo) who has a clear mission and is planning on following that on throughout the whole night. That is, all until he ends up gaining a conscience about half-way through and decides to save the mother and daughter, making them have to come along for the ride as he continues to finish what he set out to do in the first place. But on a night like “Purge Night”, nothing is ever going to be easy.

Okay, so it’s obvious that the big question concerning this sequel is, “Is it better than the first?” Well, coming from a lad like me who actually didn’t hate the first, but though it was mildly interesting disappointment, feels like that is the case here and I can’t say I’m too surprised. I knew that there was a whole bunch of promise in the first movie, but due to the fact that it didn’t have such a big-budget or cast-members, it seemed like it was a movie that could be remade, time and time again, except with more money and characters involved. Because all that movie really did was make a home-invasion thriller, with the fact that the cops can’t be called; as a result, making it something like a Funny Games, just with more blood, violence, characters, and less self-aware thoughts.

#TrueDetectiveSeason5

#TrueDetectiveSeason5

But with this sequel here, we get a bigger budget, which also means, more ground to cover. Which, yes, as a result, does mean that we get plenty of more violence, blood, and murder in all sorts of places now that everything can be spread out all across L.A. without there being any problems whatsoever with the studios. And because of that, the movie is definitely better; the violence, without sounding like a psychopathic nut-case, is pleasing because we get to see a lot of bad things, happen to bad people; the characters actually seem to have personalities, as well as smart minds that are capable of thinking rationally; and the ideas that carry-on from the first, are explored a lot more in an effective way that makes you think that maybe this Purge thing should not be happening. It gives this premise, this rather imaginary world more of a purpose and shows that, little by little, step by step, installment by installment, this franchise could really take the world by storm.

That said, it will definitely take some time and I don’t think we’re all that there yet. Because while this movie can sometimes be a compelling piece of violent fun, there are still some bits and pieces that need to be worked on. For instance, James DeMonaco, despite this practically being his “love child”, doesn’t seem like the perfect director for this material. You’d think that with the story spilling out all over on L.A.’s streets, that there would be more havoc, carnage and overall craziness, but there isn’t much of that. Sure, we hear people yelling, screaming, getting killed and all that fun stuff, but we never really get a sense that this is happening everywhere these people turn, which I think in a place like L.A., totally would be occurring.

Maybe it’s not quite all that far to be putting the blame on DeMonaco, and more of on the studios that back him up with all their wads of cash, but there was still a feeling of disappointment, from an action stand-point. Now, I don’t want it to seem as if I was asking for there to be a death every five or six seconds in the movie, but it did feel a bit “tame”, all considering what this plot truly is about and where it goes. Not saying you won’t enjoy some bouts of violence, blood and action, but when it does show up, it’s not quite filmed perfectly and makes you wonder why we haven’t put the shaky-cam thing to rest by now.

I mean, seriously: Everybody but Paul Greengrass hates it! Just put it away and bring it out every so often, like as if it was your acoustic-guitar you had from college and are bringing out at a fancy schmancy dinner party. That would be perfect and it would definitely show all of these action movies that, in order to excite or please us, they don’t have to constantly shake the camera as if they are in the freezing cold without any mittens; just have good action-sequences that are worthy of our full, undivided attention.

If the Raid 2 can do that, why can’t anyone else?!?!

Anyway, the one neat aspect about the Purge being such a big hit amongst and attracting anybody who automatically hears that title uttered in everyday conversations, means that the casts don’t have to be filled with big names to attract more people. That would most certainly help, but I think any Purge movie, is good enough than no Purge movie at all, regardless of who it is starring. And that’s why I like this cast so much: We’ve all seen these people before in countless other things, and although some of us may be able to tell them apart better than others, it’s still nice to see them getting work in a mainstream flick.

"Warrrrriorrrrrsssss commmeee outtt toooo....ergh! I mean, hey, let's Purge, guys!"

“Warrrrriorrrrrsssss commmeee outtt toooo….ergh! I mean, hey, let’s Purge, guys!”

Mostly though, I’m just speaking about the inclusion of Frank Grillo here and his lead role as Leo, the cold, stoic, soft-spoken bad-ass that has a plan and wants to stick to it as much as he can, with keeping just enough of his morality in tact. If you’ve ever seen Grillo in any of the numerous stuff he pops up in, you’d know the guy is the real deal and always leaves you wondering, “Why isn’t that guy a bigger name yet?”. Regardless of why that is, it doesn’t matter because Grillo’s a quality actor and handles this role very well, considering all he has to do is act tough, beat the shit out of people, and still be gentle enough to be considered “a good guy”. It’s a great role for Grillo to get his name out there and it’s also one that shows everybody he’s due for a Punisher re-boot.

You know, just saying.

As for the rest of the cast, they’re pretty fine, although there are some weak-links to be found. Real-life couple Kiele Sanchez and Zach Gilford are fine together, although I felt like he was a bit too stiff to play the common-dude-turned-bad-ass that occurs later on in the movie, as it occurs with just about every one of these characters. Carmen Ejogo is a lovely actress I’ve always enjoyed seeing in anything, and though I wish there was more for her to do other than look scared and frantically run around, having her around is still better than not. However, the weakest-link of this cast is the one who plays her daughter, Zoe Soul. I get that the character was a mid-teen that was trying to grasp what’s up with the world around her and how she wants to make a difference in it, but man, she would not shut up. Rather than having her play a character that is, essentially, “the cute kid” role that’s given to the ages that range from five-to-twelve, here, Soul plays the “too-smart-for-her-own-damn-good teenager”, and it’s the kind of role I don’t hope to see from here on out.

Although, like with the shaky-cam, nobody in Hollywood will listen. Story of my life.

Consensus: With a bigger budget and more ground to explore, the Purge: Anarchy is better than its predecessor, although it’s still clear that there’s plenty of improvement needed for this franchise to really work wonders and be more than just “a gimmick movie”.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!! 

Oh, Cynthia. Such a silly girl.

Oh, Cynthia. Such a silly girl.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBAceShowbiz

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15 responses to “The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

  1. Mark V. July 19, 2014 at 8:55 am

    I was sold on Frank Grillo after Warrior, and you’re right, I’ve always wondered why he isn’t a bigger deal in the film industry. Great review, and definitely excited that the movie is exploring more about the premise rather than being another home invasion thriller.

  2. ManOfYesterday July 19, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Was really disappointed in the first one. Nice to know this one is a little better but I probably won’t be rushing to check it out.

  3. mikeyb @ screenkicker July 19, 2014 at 10:39 am

    I haven’t seen the first one because it just sounded so stupid but this might be fun. I agree about Grillo, he’s a good character actor

  4. AndyK July 19, 2014 at 11:59 am

    It looks like just another weak, money-making sequel. I thought the first had an interesting premise but didn’t really deliver, so if this is worse then I’ll definitely give it a miss.

  5. Chris July 19, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    It’s better than the first, but ultimately still a disappointment. It’s just such a shame to see such a potentially amazing premise go to waste like this. I’d love these movies in the hands of someone who is actually competent, and in possession of a damn brain cell, who’d be willing to actually take full advantage of the concept, instead of completely blundering it and refusing to fully utilize it, as they’re currently doing. Bah.

  6. Tom July 19, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Really well-said brother. The Purge: Anarchy steps it up a bit but my god it makes some stupid mistakes in the process. I agree about Zoe Soul being the weakest link, she really grated on my nerves. I also didn’t really like Carmen Ejogo either, but then again I think this was the first time I’ve seen her. . .

  7. Consumed by Film July 20, 2014 at 2:55 am

    Certainly sounds a tad more promising than the first – which is quite solid – given it’s able to stretch the setting and do a lot more. Great review Dan!

    Adam.

  8. MovieManJackson July 20, 2014 at 4:02 am

    I enjoyed this one much more than the first, mainly due to its change in setting and the brilliance of Frank Grillo. Great review Dan.

  9. Marshall July 20, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    I looked up Grillo on IMDB because I wasn’t sure I was aware of him before the movie – and turns out, he’d actually been in a lot of stuff. I guess I’ve never found him particularly noticeable. Which performances of his do you like so much? (Word of caution: I loathed “Warrior.”)

  10. Evan Crean July 20, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    For something with “Anarchy” in the title, there was surprisingly little of it. I was so bored by this movie. Lots of good ideas that are totally wasted. I wanted this tale to delve further into the government’s involvement in the Purge and the revolutionaries led by Michael K. Williams. Instead we get a story which basically amounts to people walking around a city trying not to make too much noise or get caught by marauding gangs. I think THE WARRIORS is a much better film about that premise.

  11. Jade July 20, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    I like the idea of The Purge, which is a bold concept, even if it comes off a little unrealistic. The first film was disappointing, so I’m happy to see slightly more positive reviews for the sequel.

  12. Zoë July 21, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Sounds like it is a step up from the first, but still not completely utilising its concept. Pity. Great review Dan!

  13. Jim Turnbull July 22, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Nice review man! I haven’t seen the first one yet and I hate the concept, but this one sounds way better than the first one.

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  15. Pingback: » Movie Review – Purge, The: Anarchy Fernby Films

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