I didn’t see The Purge. (just thought I’d get that out of the way) I saw the trailer(s) and figured that I’d see it eventually when/if it hit Netflix. I never expected much from it (and i still don’t, i suppose) but it looked like it might be an interesting premise. Then The Purge: Anarchy came out and I figured I would eventually get around to seeing that one after I eventually got around to seeing the original. (the eventuallys are stacking up!) When I read about it in a list of better-than-the-original sequels, I decided to go ahead and skip the first one and check it out on HBOGo.
The different storylines are established right away. 1. The strong silent type gearing up for a murderous Purge night. (i’m assuming we all know what the Purge is. no? it’s a night where all crime is legal. that’s it.) 2. A woman struggling to support her daughter and sick father who wants a raise but doesn’t want to kill people. 3. A young couple having relationship troubles stuck out in the Purge when their car breaks down. Will these storylines instersect? Well, duh. There are 4 major players outside of our protagonists. (i’ll label them with letters to avoid confusion) A. Mysterious army guys who storm buildings, kill most people, and drag a few people out for a badass dude with a mini-gun to shoot from the back of a tractor-trailer. B. A band of masked hooligans rolling through the city in a delivery truck and on a few dirtbikes. C. An anti-Purge guerrilla organization using Purge night to murder people (just like the Purge?) D. The Man, man! That’s pretty much the whole story. Well, Strong/Silent saves the people from the other storylines and helps them survive the night. All while remaining mysterious about his motivation for being out and armed-to-the-teeth on Purge night. Why is he out there, y’all? Hmm.
As you can tell from my rather flip synopsis, I wasn’t super impressed with The Purge: Anarchy. It’s decent, sure. But it relies so heavily on tired action movie tropes that it suffers under its own badassery. Strong/Silent (he’s not given a name. at least not that i can remember) is fucking Rambo in the city, single-handedly taking out teams of shock troops, low-level thugs, and posh Most Dangerous Game cosplayers. On a scale of ‘passing the gravy’ to ‘giving you one of his kidneys’, his altruism is ‘would die on the cross for humanity’-level. We get it, you’re a good guy! Heart of gold even! Yeesh! He is constantly telling his charges to get behind him so he can human shield for them or he’s scouting ahead while they stay in a safe place. HOLY SHIT! I JUST REALIZED THIS IS AN ESCORT MISSION! Escort Mission: The Movie! At least in modern videogame escort missions, there’s a chance you (or the people you’re responsible for) will be killed. Considering how poor the bad guys’ marksmanship is, they must surely have some Robocop style tracking difficulties. (Robocop the robot cop) That doesn’t mean they don’t try. This film has what surely must be the highest number of background kills and NPC (that’s non-player characters for you non-nerds) deaths/kills of any horror movie ever. (that’s most likely not true) But is it horror? As I mentioned above, it relies on action tropes. It’s really a violent action film set in a dystopian future. If that’s what you’re in the mood for, I have a single-syllable suggestion: Dredd.
The Final Cut: Though The Purge: Anarchy has a solid, simple premise, the story is just too cliched and its characters are just too one-dimensional. If that premise alone is enough to excite you, then there’s some fun to be had. If you’re looking for fear/surprises/subtle social commentary, look elsewhere.