It's been awhile since I've done a Saturday AM review myself and so I may be a bit rusty. It's understandable though as the quietly dependable Kasey Michael has been doing a terrific job reviewing films or geek reviews of TV Shows! Running MyFutprint and trying to have our labels get bigger has meant I don't have a lot of time for most things and reviews are one of them so Kasey has been willing to handle films I either wouldn't see if you paid me like Transformers: Age of Extinction or films I've been unable to see like Edge of Tomorrow (aka ALL YOU NEED IS KILL) or my personal fave, Snowpiercer.
Which brings us back to The Purge: Anarchy--a film I actually saw for FREE weeks in advance because my awesome little sis scored advance screening tickets. She did so because A. I'm a hermit (running a company and having like...NO MONEY makes being social damn near impossible) and B. because we both caught the original (The Purge) several months ago on iTunes Apple TV and my sister thoroughly wanted to see the new one (It was known then that a sequel was in the works) and I grudgingly agreed to accompany her---if and when the sequel came out.
So here we are...
While I never reviewed the original -- here is my three sentence review:
"FANTASTIC idea! MEDIOCRE execution. LAME ending."
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of the Purge films:
"In a not-too-distant future America (2022 I believe --), after a revolution within the United States of America a new political party has created an annual event designed to release the inner desires of the populace in exchange for low unemployment and low (if any) crime.
The annual event?
A 12-hr period where the populace can commit any level of crime without prosecution. It's an anything goes violent fest where most who have homes will lock up and stay inside whereas other bands of marauding fiends will travel with weapons, vehicles and intent to INVADE spaces to enact their bloody games."
In the first film, we are introduced to this world by way of an affluent family where the husband sells security systems that protect those who can afford them. We learn of the moral complications the purge causes on the populace despite the supposed benefits.
The Purge: Anarchy does two things really well in lieu of it being a sequel.
#1 - the film expands and explains the world's mechanics in a very serious, thoughtful way. For example, one question I wondered about in the first film was why...say...banks wouldn't be the first target for anyone who wishes to purge? They answer that in this film.
#2 - what are the rules for purging? Can one enter someone else's home (the first film touched on this without every really explaining it)?
#2 is really the core focus of the film as the rules get presented in shocking ways once the action moves from the solitary location of the first film to a more expansive, entire city area. Whereas the Purge focused on one family in their home dealing with the events outside which threatens their so-called security indoors, the Purge: Anarchy is far-more concerned with the society at large.
Here we get five main characters who are all outside of their homes on the night of the annual event.
Eva and Cali are a mother/ daughter duo who are seemingly one of the typical (even in this future time) lower middle-class Americans who still barely make ends meet and end up outside of their low-rent housing through no fault of their own. Liz and Shane are a wife and husband who are not only battling a potential divorce/ separation and dealing with the fact that once their vehicle stalls out (not without help) they are stranded in the city without any friends/ places they can go. Lastly, Leo is a distraught father who WANTS to purge. When he decides to get involved on the behalf of Eva and Cali then all of their lives change.
The roller coaster ride of events after Leo helps Eva and Cali does indeed produce some genuine cool moments. I actually had to go pee (don't we all when a movie starts) but was legitimately engaged so much so that I decided to wait until the movie ended. Once the movie begins--the set up of the purge. and introduces some clever twists that while not monumental at least attempt to keep you guessing as to what happens next. Several subplots abound also of which---some work well, some are let downs and others just get introduced for what is inevitably a sequel. I will say that the film genuinely made me smile when I saw the masked gang (featured in many of the ads) as not only are they not quite what they appear but the designs of the masks themselves are pretty damn great!
But this movie has its' flaws too.
First things first, the acting is OK..not great by any means. Like the first film, some of the actors are recognizable although there are by no means any star name actors in this film. That said, Frank Grillo ("Leo") of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, was pretty damn good and makes you excited at the prospects of seeing him fight Cap as his character's alter-ego, CROSSBONES.
Secondly, while the film is definitely not a ultra-low budget production--I couldn't help but feel that this was another B-movie entry like the first film. Something about the look of the cinematography and the overall lighting just made this look slightly better than an episode of Law and Order and for a big spectacle (or as the name implies) I couldn't help but feel let down by some of the bigger moments (i.e. the truck guy and he final purge).
Lastly, where the first film lost its' way becoming another generic home invasion film---Purge: Anarchy has a similarly wasted and generic ending. While not as bad as the first, the notion that these individuals who are on foot, isolated and without arsenals of weapons (likewise, who have not purged--we do not get the impression that any have ever killed anyone before) can mount any kind of action flick heroics is just silly. The film ends in what can only be described as a unique Hunger Games, Rambo merger that clearly sets up an us vs. them scenario for future films.
So, should you see the PURGE: ANARCHY?
Not an enthusiastic yes but you should see this film. Now, I'm not suggesting you see it in the theater, at all (in fact, based on some of the ghetto-assed kids sitting behind me at this early screening---I would recommend against seeing it in the theatre unless you want to find yourself contemplating doing a purge yourself---which would be bad--trust me).
This is a good, schlocky, non-gore-filled (which I appreciated) B-movie film with a dynamite premise! There are so many great ideas here that in this current America where we have two very different political philosophies and our government operates at a gridlock--nothing in the Purge seems alien. There are even connections to the NSA.
America is already a very violent country and as the film (both it's original and this sequel) seem to make very clear is that class, power and race are very strong components of the growing disparity that people feel (and not just in America). In fact, this is explored TWICE in a very powerful way by suggesting that the rich purge differently from the way normal everyday Americans purge.
I can honestly say when the competition for this weekend includes a hokey concept comedy like Sex Tape or a though-provoking thriller like The Purge:Anarchy-- The purge is clearly more worthy of your time and dollar.
Frederick L. Jones is the grand-pooh bah of MyFutprint and it's various publishing labels and would like to think he'd survive the Purge by entertaining those murderers with his very sick dance moves including the Cabbage Patch.