If you liked last year’s The Purge, you’ll like The Purge: Anarchy. Best to just state that right off the bat. If you’re one of the many who vicariously loved the senseless violence, the gratifying gore, and heartless torture of the original, the sequel has even more of all of that. If, however, you felt the original had a great premise that ultimately devolved into a gleeful showcase of the violence it claimed to denounce, you’re going to find The Purge: Anarchy even worse.
Last year’s The Purge imagined a near-future when violence and poverty are at an all-time low, due to the American government sanctioning an annual, 12-hour period during which all laws are rescinded. Citizens get all their rage and vitriol out on Purge Day and behave civilly the rest of the year.
The original movie kept the action contained within one household, as a family defended itself against intruders bent on getting inside their house. The Purge: Anarchy – containing none of the characters or actors of the original film – opens the playground of the narrative up to allow the action to race around an entire city.
Sergeant, Eva, Cali, Shane, and Liz (Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zoë Soul, Zach Gilford, and Kiele Sanchez) are five people caught downtown when the Purge commences. That’s all you need bother knowing about them, because not only are they mostly interchangeable, but they’re all incredibly stupid, unlikeable people that you’ll quickly start rooting against. The boneheaded decisions the five of them make are so infuriatingly dumb, you’ll want to yell at the screen like it’s a pre-Scream slasher flick.
The trailers for The Purge: Anarchy intimated a larger-scale story, more cutting satire, and a semblance of intelligence, but barely any of that exists in the movie. Worse still, it treats its big, third-act reveal as a huge surprise for audiences, despite having spoiled it in detail during the movie’s incessant ads and commercials.
The Purge: Anarchy is one of the overall dumbest movies that have been released this year, and it’s all the more disappointing because there’s the building blocks of a good movie here. The setup is all there, but every decision of the characters (and writer-director James DeMonaco) takes the movie into more and more stupid territory.
Ultimately, The Purge: Anarchy will quench your bloodlust by the bucketful, if that’s what you’re looking for, but anyone hungry or more will find nothing of sustenance. After the letdown of the first movie and the debacle of this sequel, Universal should just purge this whole series.