You can’t expect much from a film like this. It’s loud and exists mostly to give audiences some gritty action. It’s meant to be an entertaining distraction. That doesn’t mean it has to be bad. But it is.
“The Purge: Anarchy” follows a completely different cast of characters as they find themselves on the city streets during the annual Purge. Frank Grillo stars as Sergeant, a man set out to avenge his son. However, his vengeance is put on hold when he finds and rescues others dragged into the Purge. Realizing the people he saved will die without his help, he tries to find a safe haven for them so he can continue on his merry way.
This isn’t one of the year’s worst films. “Anarchy” was more entertaining than it should have been. But still, the movie was unpleasant, didn’t make much sense and ruins a perfectly good opportunity to make a clever statement about contemporary American culture and politics. All it manages to do is demonstrate the Purge is wrong – whoop-tee-doo.
At least the movie knows what it wants to be and it doesn’t waste time getting the characters into the Purge. But it would have been nice to have some form of character development. Sergeant had something resembling a character arc, but because we don’t really get to know him it doesn’t mean much in the end.
When it comes down to it, you can’t deny the Dodge Charger Sergeant drives is the best character in the movie. Unfortunately, the vehicle is put out of commission early on in the flick and it was sad to see. The Charger could have been in cool car chases or used to mow down anyone purging. It was a wicked car – even though it was the four-door model – with armored plating and everything. At one point, Sergeant had to switch off the Charger’s headlights so he wouldn’t be spotted as he crept along the road and it looked so cool. Why does it have to suffer so?
The other characters – aside from Sergeant – were about as bright as a box of hammers. They whined and cussed a lot, making you think these characters were supposed to be played by teenagers. Plus, they didn’t know how to fend for themselves – even though they live in a world where they can be legally murdered one day a year.
Surprisingly, the film had very few jump scares. Maybe the filmmakers realize that jump scares don’t really work and should be used sparingly, if at all. Good for them.
However, the filmmakers made sure to give us plenty of shaky cam. What they don’t seem to realize is shaking the camera doesn’t make anything more intense or suspenseful. It’s just annoying. If they tried building atmosphere and making the characters more interesting, then they wouldn’t have to resort to cheap tricks to scare the audience.
At the end of “Anarchy,” the filmmakers warn us that another Purge will soon be coming. At least they’re willing to give us a head start. How kind of them. Now we should all run away as fast as we can from this travesty and never come back until they shoot a real movie.
Andrew Jenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org