“The Purge” was one of the biggest letdowns of summer 2013. The blockbuster flop boasts an amazing concept that failed to be executed to its prolific potential. Juggling modern-day quagmires of political and economic injustice, director James DeMonaco takes another stab at his dystopian future and readdresses the hypothetical solution to combat poverty and crime through a more vivid and entertaining viewpoint in “The Purge: Anarchy.”
Every year, Americans prepare themselves for the annual purge, a 12-hour window during which the government legalizes all crime, including murder. Whether citizens prepare by armoring their homes or loading their guns depends on if people decide to act upon their supposed innate appetite for violence. The first film focuses on the deathly experience one family faces during purge night. “Anarchy” follows three storylines: Mother-daughter pair Eva (Carmen Ejogo) and Cali (Zoe Soul), soon-to-be-separated couple Liz (Kiele Sanchez) and Shane (Zach Gilford) and lone soldier Leo (Frank Grillo).
In a coincidental turn of events, the five focal characters end up together, roaming the streets of Los Angeles with nothing but handguns. While Eva and Cali were forced out of their home and Liz and Shane’s car broke down, Leo is out on purge night due to an inclination for revenge. The entire storyline focuses on the five characters making it through the night, facing three main antagonist groups: a paramilitary, a masked gang of vigilante poor and the rich.
The outstanding modification this film has in contrast to its predecessor is its shift in perspective. “Anarchy” doesn’t fit as a sequel; rather it is the same story concept using a more diverse arrangement of more relatable characters, allowing it to stand on its own, independent of the first film. The plot of the original concentrated on a rich, white family attempting to save themselves in their high-tech luxurious home. This addition focuses on a working-class black family and assumedly middle-class bickering couple. The concept centralizes what the purge is actually about: wealth control and political manipulation.
In the beginning, Eva’s father sells himself to a wealthy family to be violently mutilated. Later on, Eva and Cali become trapped outside during the purge because they are too poor to properly barricade their home. In other scenes, the group is kidnapped off the street then sold into an annual black-tie auction. The imagined America regulates its economic system, pushing capital upwards by killing the poor and all deadbeat members of society. Only those who can afford protection are safe.
Although the flow is intense and the amount of violent action is precise — enough to fill a person’s blood lust but not disgustingly “Saw” — DeMonaco packs too many concepts and situations into too short of a time span. Some obstacles the group faces are rather arbitrary. The plot is convoluted and lacks continuity in its character development. As a result of the first film being too slow and predictable, it seems that DeMonaco wanted to include unique plot twists to keep the audience members on their toes. While the film throws in many curveballs, many of them are confusingly short-lived, being introduced, solved and then forgotten.
This film’s tone reflects less of a horror vibe by having more characteristics resembling a light action thriller with a dark, Christopher Nolan “Batman”-esque undertone. There are hints of comedy tossed into the script, and the characters are entertaining and engaging. While “Anarchy” is a better execution of the the purge concept that corrects the loopholes of the original “Purge,” it is still an anticlimactic melodrama with an underdeveloped plot. The execution of its heart-wrenching and introspective storyline is average, but the storyline leaves much more to be desired.