I rather enjoyed The Purge, but overall I preferred the idea behind the film, the “bigger picture” if you will, as opposed to the Home Invasion thriller, that the first film focused on because I was more interested in what else was happening on the streets and across the city.
So imagine my delight when I found out that The Purge: Anarchy was to show us exactly that, and that it was to star one of my favourite actors of recent years, Frank Grillo, who also gave a killer performance in Captain America: Winter Soldier this year.
For those who don’t know, the films are set in an alternate, near-future (everything looks the same in general, there are no flying cars) where the Government body known as The Founding Fathers have established The Purge, a 12-hour period in which any and all crime is legalized, including murder. Every year citizens across America exercise their right to Purge, or hole up at home trying to stay safe, and as a result crime and unemployment are at an all time low, Nationwide.
The story of The Purge: Anarchy runs as follows: A young couple is driving home when their car breaks down on a bridge just as the Purge commences. Meanwhile, a police sergeant played by Grillo, clearly channeling the Punisher, goes out into the streets to get revenge on the man who killed his son, and a mother and daughter run from their home after assailants destroy it. These five different people come together and end up having each other’s backs as they attempt to survive the night in Los Angeles.
I’ll say it now - I’m a big fan of this film. It runs like The Warriors meets The Punisher, meaning it is already right up my street. The action scenes are intense, but at the same time there are some well judged moments of humour and the characters, while initially archetypes, are well drawn and all have their moments in the film. The cast includes some of my favourite actors – Grillo himself, the lovely Carmen Ejogo, who proves to be the heart of the film, Michael Kenneth Williams, and a great bad guy turn from Jack Conley. No big names here, just some fantastic actors, who help elevate the material to another level.
The visual style is slick and, unlike the previous film, we can actually see much more of the carnage happening on screen, and make no mistake there is carnage to be had, Anarchy has a SERIOUS (and welcome) body count, and the set-pieces are plentiful and varied. It’s rare that we get to see such a full-on action movie these days.
We also get intriguing glimpses into the ways various different people Purge across the city, from the wealthiest and most powerful members of society, to the poorest, and I’m hoping we see even more of this in the 3rd film.
The Purge: Anarchy is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray in the UK, released by Universal Pictures.