The Purge: Anarchy
It takes a determined effort to buy into The Purge: Anarchy’s concept: for 12 hours a year all crime is legal, including murder.
Sequel to 2013’s poorly reviewed but reasonably well grossing The Purge, The Purge: Anarchy makes a few notable changes from its forebear. Most notably, the film swaps out the slasher genre for an action horror more akin to the Resident Evil films, but with less sci-fi and a smaller budget. To fit with the action focus, generic suburbia is now a fairly unconvincing New York, and B-list stars Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey are replaced with actors a little further down the alphabet.
The first 30 minutes are promising enough, showing off the well-thought-out world that’s been wrapped around the ridiculous concept. There’s a sense that some real time has been spent fleshing out the realities of an America with this most brutal of holidays: from the parasitic bandits offering guns and protection in exchange for cash or services, to the genuinely terrifying gangs that roam the streets even before the purge begins.
It’s clear that a lot of dedication has gone into the design of these grotesque mask-wearing thugs, and the results are a hair-raising mix between The Warriors and A Nightmare Before Christmas. Their menace is never really cashed in on, but they do an effective job of building tension early in the film.
Performances are mostly as you’d expect, with only Carmen Ejogo drawing any emotional realism from the predictable and generally lackluster script. Some are bound to recognise Michael K. Williams from his unforgettable performance as Omar from the TV gem The Wire. The same can’t be said for his performances here, and his character’s anti-violence message is undermined by the films over-reliance on action.
The Purge: Anarchy is mostly a tale of survival with various interludes made for action, exposition and humour, which, uneven as it is, provides welcome relief. Unfortunately, the film’s third act takes the plot from the absurd to the utterly preposterous, and it’s at this stage that the film descends into utter mindlessness.
Joe Manners Lewis
The Purge: Anarchy is released nationwide on 25th July 2014.
Watch the trailer for The Purge: Anarchy here: