Images provided by Universal Pictures
The original movie was primarily composed of the cheapest jump scares I've ever seen (refrigerator closes revealing person behind the door cliché) even when not necessary. The Purge: Anarchy, however, does not do this; in fact I found it more of an action movie than of the horror genre. In The Purge the movie never leaves the house (which the layout made no sense) except for the introduction. Anarchy doesn't include any characters from the original (thankfully), instead they are replaced by five people trying to survive in Los Angeles on Purge Night (12 hour 'holiday' where all crime is legal in the United States.)
The movie begins with introducing the characters by what they are doing in preparation for The Purge. One is preparing his weapons, inferring he will kill someone tonight. The man's name is not revealed, so will be Austin Powers; being the International Man of Mystery, due to his lack of name and marginal combat experience that seems to work in times where it is highly illogical to work in reality, unless your enemies are trying not to shoot you (which I'll complain about later.) Next is Eva, a poor waitress begging her boss for a raise to continue paying to provide treatment for "him"; and her daughter Cali who recently became against The Purge, and her (presuming) grandfather who may have some form of memory loss. Lastly there is Shane and Liz, a couple who are separated yet for some reason not separated nor have they shared it with their sister yet they are driving in the same car an hour before The Purge occurs then their car breaks down thirty minutes after a strange man goes to your car with a machete?
These three plot lines combine into one when they embark on their quest to find a car. Seriously, at this point you can tell Austin Powers has spent a while preparing for this, wouldn't he know how to hotwire a car. It's Los Angeles; most of the movie takes place in lower income areas, but don't you think he could have found another car somewhere that he could hotwire that isn't in an unsecured garage? Instead him and his companions (who you will despise and confuse you to all extremities with their actions) will go through many obstacles throughout the movie, only to carjack one of their several abductors in the movie. They must use this car to take Austin Powers to a destination which Austin hasn't revealed. Cali figures out after about an hour of being with the group that Mr. Powers is going purging tonight, good job Captain Obvious; he is carrying an arsenal of weapons with him traveling through a crime plagued city, definitely just going to Walmart to pick up some ice cream.
As mentioned briefly Anarchy's shooting scenes are in no way realistic. I didn't know the movie was about manipulating physics to take the long route to places, if so I would watch this as a Television show (which would be the only T.V. Show I watch) titled "The Physics Bender: Urban Survival Expert Who Can't Hotwire Cars or Use Unoccupied Buildings to Cut Through." I do realize it's a movie, if it were realistic it would be boring; but it's almost like a person walking on the beach of Normandy, June 6th 1944, holding a large sign and not getting shot once. Spoilers in the following sentence! The International Man of Mystery, whose name is revealed as Sargent in the final scenes; dodges thousands of bullets from multiple people at a time in 60 minutes, yet one guy with a revolver nearly kills him?
I was hoping The Purge: Anarchy would focus more on the political system behind the New Founding Fathers of America, and how they came to be. Instead it was something different, but perhaps more profound that what I considered the best background information to expose. Anarchy revealed a lot about the psychological perception by society of The Purge. For example, the usual people talking about how great The Purge is (the original made sure you were aware that it is heavily approved); surprisingly the poor had a positive view of the event, even though it is meant to kill their financial class off (the first only showed the views of wealthy families, and from one's who lost a loved one the previous day; Purge Day.) The sequel was what the title is Anarchy, with the exception of a government using the anarchy as a tool of control and restricting certain explosives, attacks on high ranking military personal. Revenge is a common theme (heck revenge would be an accurate subtitle, however it would then sound like a Lifetime movie?) in Anarchy, as many of the character's actions are dictated on revenge, sending and receiving. The idea of The Purge is to 'cleanse your soul from the hatred humans build up inside them by releasing anger on the ones who wronged you or the ones who are a waste of space sick, homeless, etc.' Yes this is actually the highest accepted beliefs in this macrocosm.
There are a few visual/setting defects I noticed; not that big of a deal, but if this is something that will cause you to despise the movie all together than read this paragraph. There is a sequence where the group members are being chased by a group of purgers on jeeps and bikes (the group being without a car because Mr. Powers can't hotwire); they run into what seems to be a column between two bridge supports. As they are running, the purgers are shooting (because when purging there is never a need to reload no matter what gun, unless you're the main character or fighting the main character and it's either kill or be killed within a few seconds; Typical action movies), the sound alerts the homeless hiding there in spots where the purgers won't see unless they aren't looking at the people they're chasing; who are directly in front of them. The homeless people hiding run out into the open in the direction the jeep is moving.
I appreciate how the storyline worked. Usually in 'horror' movies where the government does something considered evil by our culture, there isn't an opposition. Movies typically project society as everyone submitting to the oppression, then one person who happens to be the main character is enlightened and most now overthrow their corruption and bring peace to society single handedly. Anarchy has a subplot of rebels who are attempting to end/discourage purging, perhaps with intent of governmental overthrow; or they may be the anarchists? I find this great because usually it's massive group vs. one person, or massive group vs. spies, you probably get where I'm going.
None of these flaws ruined the movie for me; however if several of the issues addressed are significant qualities you want in films, The Purge: Anarchy might not be for you. I loved the movie; I enjoyed the original though slightly disappointed. I decided to give its sequel a chance, and it was well worth it. If you are more interested in the idea itself of The Purge, than the action; watch Anarchy. The trailer in no way makes the movie look better than it actually is, in fact the trailers are in no way as good as the actual movie; that's the first time I've ever said that about any media production. If you think watching action sequences would be fun, then you'll probably like both films. The series is phenomenal and I am interested to see what is coming next.
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