Let's be brutally honest here, 'The Purge' blew complete chunks. The concept was, and still is, intriguing. But the way they executed first film was wrong in almost every single way. The story was tired, they confined all the action to happening in one house and they didn't really take any risks with anything. Now we have 'The Purge: Anarchy.' From the trailers alone you could tell they felt they had to expand their horizons. A day of murder is cool when one house is getting terrorized. It's another level when you expand your playground to a whole city. This is where the sequel, sets itself apart from it's predecessor.
'The Purge: Anarchy' follows the story of five people who are strangers to each other at the start of the day. They are forced to band together once they are all caught out in the streets of LA during the sixth annual Purge. The first two are Eva and Cali Sanchez (Carmen Ejogo and Zoe Soul), a mother and her daughter, who are dragged out of their home by armored after the purge began. They are reluctantly saved by our third person, Sergeant Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo). He is out for revenge during this year's purge and is on a mission to make it to the man he intends to kill. Our fourth and fifth members of this unlikely group, are a couple, Shane and Liz (Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez). They are running from a group of thugs who have been tailing them since before the Purge began. They end up in the back of Sergeant Barnes' car as he is saving Eva and Cali. The five must now stick together and figure out a way to survive the night. With an extremest telling them to take back their city, a group of thugs being led by "God" and a demented butcher manning a turret, this is going to be the most brutal night of their lives.
This was the movie I was looking forward to when I watched 'The Purge' last year. Murder in the streets, psychopaths abound, pretty brutal violence, good character development and a decent story. All this is what the first movie needed but sorely missed. The acting, while not going to garner any awards, is perfectly acceptable in this film. Led by Frank Grillo who sets the tone for the film. I also thought Zoe Soul was almost the backbone of the group as well. The rest of the group was fine, but those are the two that really drove the action, as well as the character interactions. Speaking of the action it is plentiful and brutal. From moment the Purge starts there's rampant in your face violence. Bodies get ripped apart from bullets, vehicles are outfitted with flame throwers and wealthy people are killing at will because they can. The kills in passing are done well, while the tactical kills from Barnes are swift and fulfilling. The hand to hand combat Barnes' character brings is a nice contrast to the senseless violence and ads another dimension to the action. The story is alright as well. It expands upon the idea of "The Purge" while giving pretty good character development and making an effort to give said characters life. They become more than just five people fighting death on the worst night of the year. The overall feel of this is better as well. It wasn't a poorly crafted horror film following a family trapped in a house. I'd rather have this grisly, almost survival-like film. It suits the series much better than trying to use jump scares or building tension.
This film is far from a slam dunk, but 'The Purge: Anarchy' is a massive improvement over the first film. While not the greatest action film ever to be crafted, it takes the idea that was squandered in 'The Purge' and gives it some new life. The murderous action is a welcome addition to the film. The fact there's an actual story and some character development to back it up helps this movie out a ton as well. If you liked the first film for whatever reason, or if you're like me, and wanted to see the idea of "The Purge" done well, then this is a welcome improvement. Otherwise, this isn't gonna be the film for you in the slightest.