I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

The Purge: Anarchy

tn_purgeanarchyThat movie THE PURGE was a little better than I expected. You gotta accept a completely asinine premise (that 12 hours of “all crime is legal” free-for-all every March 22nd would virtually eliminate crime, unemployment and poverty) but I like Ethan Hawke’s dedicated performance and the subtext about living a comfortable life distanced from the savagery we benefit from. These people say they don’t believe in killing, but they believe in The Purge because it’s the American way. U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

Now lo and behold part 2 is better than the first one. Not any smarter, but better put together. Okay, we’ve accidentally bought into this world where The Purge happens, now let’s have a more entertaining story about it. They ditched the home invasion/siege format and deal with people moving through the city trying to evade the mayhem. It’s shot in kind of a digital age noir style with solid yellows and reds often highlighting the spaces between dark shadows. As you drive through the city you pass serious beatings on the side of the road, things on fire, gun battles.The first movie was all about this upper class family hiding out in their house, this one has more variety. It starts out like it’s gonna be a cross-section of how different people in the city deal with The Purge. You got a young, white, on-the-verge-of-breaking-up couple who break down on the highway and get chased into downtown by menacing punks in plastic masks. You have a black mother and daughter whose apartment is attacked by a paramilitary squad. Most importantly you have a badass soldier or cop or something (Frank Grillo, THE GREY, CAPTAIN AMERICA’S WINTER SOLDIER) headed out to seek revenge on somebody. When their paths all cross Grillo feels enough pity to help the others out and try to get them to safety. As long as they don’t get in his way, because he’s not gonna wait another year to kill that motherfucker.

We see more things that could happen during a Purge: family drama turning to murder, rich people who look like the Romneys paying an old sick guy to be their “sacrifice,” the government secretly using it for organized hits, a radical group fighting back, guys in dune buggies driving through the sewers blowtorching homeless people. As they do.

I gotta say, the low income bad guys of the Purgeverse only have slightly better taste in masks than the rich people. They lean a little bit too Juggalo for my tastes. They got a skateboarder and a guy with skeleton makeup. And like the rich boys they are way too self conscious with their head tilting and other scary posing. A real slasher or post-apocalypse berserker would eat these sissies for breakfast.

As a side note, I’d like to brag that I recognized Noel G. as the neighbor guy who had the worst timing to try to rape somebody and got shot up by soldiers after the same lady. Noel G. is a guy who was in THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, WRONG TURN AT TAHOE, RECOIL and FORCE OF EXECUTION. I was also proud to notice him in a bit part in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. Way to be back on the big screen, Noel G.

mp_purgeanarchyLeading the innocents through all this and making the movie worthwhile is Grillo, who has seemed ready to break out since WARRIOR. Here he’s a good stoic guy with a 5 o’clock shadow, a kevlar vest and alot of guns. There’s some good tension when his passengers ask why he’s out here and he doesn’t answer, which is an answer in itself. Or when a family that takes him in starts complaining about people going out to Purge and he listens but doesn’t respond because he’s trying to figure out a way to politely leave to go out and Purge.

He’s a credible badass, shooting with accuracy, hiding from people, taking a guy out with a sleeper hold. One minor complaint: he shoulda done something besides just drive that badass car before the bad guys took it out. That thing was a beauty, it would’ve been exciting to see it in action and also would establish it as more of a setback when he loses it.

Action coherence-wise it’s got problems – some disorienting fast edits, a fight in the dark – but generally when they have to face down some dudes who pull up with a gatling gun in the back of a semi or whatever it is genuinely exciting. Going a little more action-movie for the sequel was a good idea.

For a while you don’t know what specifically Grillo is getting revenge for. It’s an easy guess that somebody killed his kid, because we see how there was some tragedy that messed him up and ruined his marriage and now his ex-wife is worried about him. But when it turns out to be a son that was killed by a drunk driver it’s a little disappointing. Shouldn’t it be that his kid was killed in a previous Purge and now the dad is revenge-purging? It would show The Purge as an endless cycle of Purgery.

I guess the first one might have a little more substance behind the story, but I can at least say there’s a little bit of heart to this one. Maybe it’s corny but I really liked how much the mother and daughter care about each other. The daughter is constantly asking “Are you all right?” She seems like a nice girl and that gives her some credibility when she tries to tell Grillo to refrain from Purging.

They say this is the 6th annual Purge, and I wasn’t sure but were some of the rules announced at the beginning new? There was something about limits on weapons classes and levels of government who are exempt. I hope some of that was new because then it’s like UFC, who started out saying there were no rules, then added new ones every year.

I bet by now the markets have caught on. There must be big Purge Eve sales at the hardware stores, Recommended Purge Day Binges on cable channels and Netflix, t-shirts that say “I Got the Urge to Purge,” shit like that. Maybe if society won’t wake up to the dangers of this savagery then at least the greeting card industry will ruin it. You know, every year they put the Purge decorations up earlier.

It’s interesting, they say that all crime is legal, but it seems like everybody jumps straight to murder. Surely there must be other legal criminality out there. I mean, I’m glad they haven’t focused on the rapists and child molesters, that would be no fun to watch. And the illegal downloaders would be kinda boring.

But let’s be realistic, not all illegal activity requires Halloween masks. If all crime is legal there should be so much else going on there. If you don’t have medical marijuana where you live, you fucking know there will be so much cataract relief during The Purge! And if you live in one of the 19 states that still have bans on gay marriage then be prepared for lots of weddings on the 22nd. In fact that’s what I think part three, THE PURGE: MATRIMONY should be about. It’s another genre switchup, this time more of a relationship dramedy about a group of people trying to go to the weddings of all their gay friends, but they have to time it right, you know, to get to all of them. There is romance and dancing and drunken toasts, but then when they have to travel to the next wedding you got dudes in crazy masks trying to beat their heads in and light them on fire and what not. And they try not to ruin their outfits or damage the wedding gifts they’re carrying. So it’s got something for everybody.

I look forward to that but for now Part Anarchy is kinda fun.

acr_purgeanarchy

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 at 9:13 am and is filed under Action, Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

29 Responses to “The Purge: Anarchy”

  1. I liked this one a lot more than the first Purge. I likes the droning score couples with shots of people running through the empty, dark streets, reminded me very much of The Warriors and Escape From New York. I also liked how they explained the reasoning behind the Purge and it really comes down to class warfare and keeping the poor in check. Plus Grillo needs to be the next Punisher, so let’s make that happen already, America.

  2. I’m a Grillomaniac so I’m happy to see him getting his own action vehicle, though I did skip this because I heard it wasn’t so good. Maybe I’ll check it out now.

  3. Pretty sure they mentioned those rules about weapons classes and government employees in the first one.

  4. Luc Besson snatched up Grillo for a film he produced last year called INTERSECTIONS aka COLLISIONS. It’s generically titled (like TAKEN), but I hear it’s a good noir-thriller/action. Just came out over here so I’ll be checking it out when I can.

  5. I haven’t seen it yet, but Mouth has been singing the praises of Grillo’s MMA show KINGDOM. It’s cool that Grillo seems to be breaking through. He looks like a henchman who got promoted to hero. You don’t see that very often.

  6. I haven’t seen either of these movies yet, but in my opinion the premise is juuuuuust believable enough that it makes it scary as hell, I mean could you imagine if this was real? again, it may be ridiculous but it’s an effectively scary idea for a movie

    I think part of what scares me about it is it plays on the fear of the modern day that everyone is just an inch away from snapping and going berserk (hence things like mass shootings and whatnot) and if there was anarchy it would be total carnage and chaos

  7. This really came off to me as a very good John Carpenter movie that John Carpenter had nothing to do with it (see DAYBREAKERS and DOOMSDAY.) Not just in the obvious ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK/ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 story and filmatic influences, but as well in the social commentary. In contrast to the first forgettable PURGE, the director really makes it clear that this is 1% going to war against poor people and minorities. Really strange timing that I saw this at the dollar theater after Ferguson, and it made so much sense.

    I mean you gotta like how that crew came across that Madoff-esque white collar crook who got crucified.

    As for masks Vern…hey, even Purgers don’t want to get hunted down by their victims’ families a year or more later if they know what they looked like. I thought that made enough sense. Also, how about that gang of purgers in that van revealing to be [SPOILER]merely kidnappers who snatch people and dump them at rich people parties for a fee? They’re fucking delivery boys.[/SPOILER]

    Frank Grillo deserves to become an action star because he has that sort of masculine charisma to pull it off, and ANARCHY I thought was a good presentation of those skills. Its not like you ever not believe he is this mysterious special ops-y badass. You also gotta like how in a terrific “stick it to the man” moment, he shoots at the 1% spectators which causes them to lose their shit.

    For that matter, there is something enjoyable when after we’ve seen what Grillo can do, he’s thrown into that maze with those rich assholes hunting….and you know those shitheads have no idea who they’re trapped in a room with.

    I actually hope Grillo and that character comes back for PURGE WITH A VENGEANCE. Who doesn’t want to see him fight this theofascist government? I mean ANARCHY did plant the idea that a rebellion was brewing.

  8. Probably my favorite movie of last summer – just good old-fashioned movie-making like, as RRA said, Carpenter used to do. It sets up likable good guys and hatable bad guys, it has a great hero and keeps things moving at a brisk pace. It’s emotionally involving and crowd-pleasing; and not just a huge improvement of the first one, but expands on the world in a way that feels natural and not like bad fan-fiction.

    Plus, I might have mentioned this elsewhere on this site, but I really really like that *MILD SPOILER* both Purges have strong endings where no good deed goes unrewarded. So many horror movies have that nihilistic side where bad things happen to good people as irony or shock value, like it would kill someone to have a non-bummer ending for once. In both Purges, the lead characters make the tough choice and do the right thing, and that ends up helping them later. It’s surprisingly thoughtful and optimistic.

    *SPOILERS* Apparently the homeless guy from part 1 shows up here as one of the freedom fighters at the end but I didn’t notice. Hopefully part 3 will switch genres again but still have room for Headey and Grillo to team up and kick some ass.

  9. I was going to completely skip this movie like I did the last one, but comparing it to John Carpenter’s work is high praise. I assume that I won’t miss anything if I go straight to the sequel and sidestep the original.

  10. Rbatty – you definitely don’t need to see the first one to appreciate or understand the second one – but I’d suggest still watching Purge 1 at some point. It’s not very good but it’s kind of fun and more importantly, very short. The scope is so tiny it almost seems like the student film or demo made to get the funding to part 2, which is odd since part 1 has the bigger stars in it.

    The idea of a film series where each film has the same horrific premise but different characters, scopes, and genres is pretty awesome. I’m a little worried Purge 3 will end up with the same feel as Purge 2, but hopefully Demonaco has something up his sleeve (and hopefully we won’t just end up with a variation on Hunger Games, which Purge 2 heavily hinted at)

  11. How about a heist movie next time? The ACTUAL Crime Organisations that exist all year round would presumably have some special big highly secured events every year that have massive takes, and you could have a crew targeting that, while also showing what sort of things the criminals would arrange for these events, like maybe Thunderdome style deathmatches?

  12. That would be cool, because anyone with anything worth stealing would employ their own army to guard it. Throw in a third party like revolutionaries trying to take down a multinational bank or something and you have an all-out class war. Could be an awesome trilogy capper.

  13. Can I make you guys all laugh? The first time I saw Frank Grillo was back in the 90’s when I worked nights and got hooked on soaps during the day, and he was on Guiding Light.

    I liked the Purge: Anarchy, but I really found the mom and daughter and divorcing couple to be ridiculous. They way they clung to Grillo and nagged at and pestered him, I think if he weren’t such a nice guy he could have spent about 4 bullets and have been done with them.

  14. Jokes aside, The Purge: Matrimony could be a pretty great movie. A couple (doesn’t matter if they’re gay, lesbian, straight) locks themselves in their Purge-proofed home like in the first movie, but what one of the spouses doesn’t know is that the other is planning to kill them. They then have to spend the entire night evading/fighting back against their killer spouse without leaving the house.

    Also, there would definitely be one night only cannibal food trucks during The Purge, right?

  15. I bet spousal murder would be one of the top crimes, divorce rates being what they are. You could save a lot of money on lawyers if you just waited until Purge Day to, um, finalize your separation.

  16. Part of me wishes The Purge was an HBO miniseries where they could devote each episode to a “what if?” situation like the matrimonial one you guys are describing. The first movie would have been alot better (and better-received) if it was just the pilot of the show and didn’t have the baggage/expectations of an actual summer movie.

    Also, one of the most eye-rollingest things in the first one was when the daughter’s boyfriend tries to kill Ethan Hawke, and it’s like, “dude, if you succeeded, isn’t it going to be SUPER awkward between you and the daughter tomorrow?” On one hand it falls apart upon inspection but on the other hand it kinda makes you think about how stupid and futile alot of crime is – even in the real world, not enough criminals think about any consequences other than “am I going to get caught?” Other consequences, such as “how is this going to affect my loved ones and my victim’s loved ones and people who depend on me” get forgotten about, and I like that the Purge movies are almost like a weird satirical comment on that to the extreme.

  17. Yeah I keep getting my Grillo fix via Kingdom. Latest episode, he headbutted a guy and called him a “fucking cunt.” Then there was a drunken fight. And broken glass.

    That’s good tv.

  18. Just saw Grillo’s INTERSECTIONS on bluray. It’s an okay noir thriller, not much action. There’s a big car pile up in the desert near the beginning which is pretty spectacular. It’s basically THE PERFECT GETAWAY intersecting with THE LAST SEDUCTION, with a detour through RED ROCK WEST. Maybe a pit stop at BODY HEAT. Or even a u-turn at U-TURN.

    Grillo plays a wall street guy on honeymoon in Morocco with his wife, who’s scheming to milk him of his millions. At first I thought he was this pussy-whipped putz, a clean-shaven everyday type guy, but after the titular interceding of vehicles in the desert, the plot starts getting all noir-y and he becomes five o clock shadow grizzled Grillo, and a bit of a bastard, really.

    Couple of thoughts on Grillo – he’s 51 years old! I never knew that. Good on him for getting some breakout stuff and recognition later in life. He reminds me of a cross between Steven Bauer and Michael Biehn. He’s gonna be in the US remake of THE RAID. He was in MINORITY REPORT, but only in a small role as a pre-crime cop. The biggest crime there is that he should have got the Colin Farrell role. Fuck that guy.

  19. This one is so much more what a movie about a Purge should be that the first one should just be an extra on the Blu-ray like that short about what Dom and Letty were up to before FAST & FURIOUS. It’s a fast, satisfying action thriller with a great lead badass, and I think it even redeems the idiocy of the central premise. In the first one, it seemed pretty farfetched that 12 hours of murder could eliminate all crime and poverty, but this one made it more clear that the Purge is simple population control. It comes off less like an unlikely sci-fi premise and more like the kind of obvious fuck you to the lower classes that the government pulls all the time and barely even tries to lie about.

    Anyway, pretty awesome movie. I’m looking forward to whatever Grillo does next.

  20. The Undefeated Gaul

    December 9th, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    I’ve been catching up on Kingdom. Good tv indeed. Not much MMA for a show about MMA, but the drama makes it worthwile. Grillo is good, although the show is pretty much stolen completely by Jonathan Tucker. Anyways, thanks for the recommendation, Mouth. Might not have watched it otherwise.

  21. Good to hear, Gaul. What a goddamn premiere season. Lot of hard punches landed.

    What to make of that final montage sequence? I’m disappointed Jay & Nate’s mom did what she apparently did (thought her pimp had been physically fucked up for semi-permanent status, whoops), and I don’t even want to think about what Nick Jonas’s teenie girl fans are thinking right now if they watched what his character just did.

    Yes, Jonathan Tucker owns the show (shockingly, after he seemed like an out of shape strung out loser the first couple episodes), especially because Grillo’s character so often shows confounding weakness. That bit where Jay breaks into dude’s house and does that thing with the gun and then hears a certain noise and then retreats and pukes… jeeeeeeeezus. I don’t know if the showrunners/writers gave up & excised that gang-violence subplot from the overall arc for a specific purpose or if they’re just saving & extending it for future episodes, but it worked out pretty effectively (though without a satisfying payoff) in this strangely incomplete yet undeniably very good season 1.

  22. The Undefeated Gaul

    December 11th, 2014 at 2:56 am

    I’ve got one more ep to go (which I’ll likely watch tonight) so am not completely up to date. So the pimp is back huh? That doesn’t surprise me at all, was bound to happen sooner or later. And guessing what Nick Jonas is gonna do is not too hard… wonder how Alvie is gonna respond to that discovery.

    Agreed on Jay’s little home invasion, very powerful stuff. If they don’t pick up that storyline again it’s a good ending, since they’re going for realism there’s not much else you can do to solve a situation like that, a gang like that would just keep on coming after them otherwise. Btw I really liked the way Jay was able to get the address info from the police lady, felt smartly written to me.

    Also I want to give a special shout-out to Ryan’s parole officer. What a memorably disgusting and petty character, quite the creation! The type of character you’d love to punch through the tv but probably wouldn’t even if that were possible, because the thought of touching him makes your skin crawl.

  23. The Undefeated Gaul

    December 11th, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Saw the final ep. Good stuff, hope we get a season 2. Probably should change the name from Kingdom to Tucker though, he deserves it.

  24. I recently saw this again. I am convinced that Frank Grillo would be a fucking spot on perfect casting choice if they ever made a movie out of the very long running Mack Bolan/The Executioner book series.

    For those who don’t know, Mack Bolan is basically who The Punisher was a copy of. Ex-Vietnam vet comes home from the war after his family dies due to the Mob, he uses his military training, tactics, and weapons to seek revenge. Over the years, his targets branched out to include terrorists, drug cartels, violent street gangs, rogue government operatives and paramilitary contractors, even the occasional serial killer. Grillo has shown the capability to handle weapons effectively, hand to hand combat skills, properly conveys the role of a well trained badass, and he even LOOKS like the general description of Bolan.

    Also, in the past, Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, and Vin Diesel have all been either attached to star in a Bolan film or were pushing for one, but all of them fell through. The one Eastwood was attached to was going to be directed by Burt Reynolds. Now supposedly Bradley Cooper is wanting to do one, but we’ll see.

  25. Saw a screening of The Purge: Election Year last night. I didn’t really like the first one and despite everyone telling me the second one is way better, I never got around to seeing it but I really liked the ad campaign for this one so I was hopeful. Unfortunately the trailers are way better than the final movie. Election Year is still dumb but I feel this go around they had all the right ideas and ingredients to make a really good one but they go for high camp instead. The script doesn’t really feel done either, there are a whole bunch of things that happen in this movie that only happen because it is convenient to the plot (hey Michael Bay produced this one, what a surprise on that front). Also shaky-cam, almost overtime a ‘shocking’ thing happens the camera goes into convulsions (really puts in the moments guys!). That applies to the one straight up fight scene in the movie during the climax as well. On the action there is gun-play since there was talk about that just recently in The Killer thread, it’s not any good thanks to the shaky-cam though. Another personal opinion that many will probably disagree with is that if making a movie that tells us how horrible this would be, maybe the movie shouldn’t have any ‘kewl’ action beats. Over all I thought it was okay and better than the first, everyone at the screening told me that the second is better. If you didn’t foolishly get your hopes up from the ad campaign like I did and you like the other two you’ll probably like it more than me. Passable but could’ve been really good I think.

  26. Also, the movie has a problem with that it’s heart is in the right place with wanting to confront the treatment of black neighborhoods by the government but I’m pretty sure the filmmakers never met a person of color of their life and just bases them off of other movies they saw. Like I said, at least their heart was in the place and there is too offensive or embarrassing on that front.

  27. Caught Purge: Election Year tonight – there’s a scene early on where a group of black characters debate about whether the film’s heroine (a well-meaning blonde white lady running for President) can be trusted to fix things, or if she’s going to be the same ole establishment in new clothes. Probably the last thing you’d ever expect to see in a part 3 of a horror series, but then again this isn’t the typical horror series – it has a lot to say and alot on its mind, and even though this one goes a little too broad and over-the-top, I appreciate the thoughtfulness and downright anger this one has. For a big studio summer movie (that’s also somehow made by Blumhouse AND Platinum Dunes), this one has no problem stepping on toes and naming names – the NRA are said to be in cahoots with the villains; the lead henchman wears a confederate flag. Not to stereotype, but I’m guessing there’s probably a huge overlap between people who enjoy this series and people who will vote for Donald Trump tomorrow; I’m still trying to wrap my head around what that means and what they think of this one (it’s the highest grossing of the series so I guess people liked it?)

    I’m sure Vern will eventually get around to reviewing it someday so I’ll save most comments for then, but I’ll just say even though Election Year is my least favorite of the series, it’s still solid, has a great ending, and if the series does end here, it’ll be more satisfying than the Hunger Games Quadrilogy if that’s saying anything.

  28. Grimgrinningchris

    April 30th, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Yeah. Election Year needs a review. I just finally saw it and really want to know Vern (and everyone else’s) thoughts.

Leave a Reply





XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <img src=""> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <b> <i> <strike> <em> <strong>