In 2023, the annual Purge is as popular as ever. The new founding fathers of America brought in this initiative in an attempt to maintain harmony and order throughout the land, with poverty, unemployment and crime at an all-time low. But for one night, everything (including murder) is legal and all hell is about to break loose. For a random group of strangers forced to reluctantly band together to survive the night, this year’s Purge will be their toughest yet.
The Purge as a concept is quite interesting and there is plenty of scope to do something topical and challenging with the premise. The first movie – a kind of ‘what if…’ cautionary tale – had its strengths but ultimately turned into a clichéd horror. The Purge: Anarchy shifts gear and takes us onto the streets, slap-bang during the kill-fest, and introduces us to lots of new characters. This change of pace is a welcome one and brings with it plenty of fun and horrific mayhem.
Leading the line exceptionally well is Frank Grillo. It’s great to see him getting his dues, especially after his breakout performances in Warrior and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Grillo looks and acts the part and it’s his character that carries you through the film. If Marvel are ever going to tackle The Punisher again, they should use this film as Grillo’s screen test because he echoes the anti-hero really well in every scene. Elsewhere, there are trio of strong female turns from Carmen Ejogo, Kiele Sanchez and Zoë Soul.
The fear now is that The Purge will turn into another multi-spawning franchise like Saw and Paranormal Activity. These are cheaply made and make their money back quite quickly so the Hollywood machine will no doubt flog this horse to death too. But there’s still scope here to draw your attention (a Purge set in London for instance would be great). So be prepared to witness a lot more ‘cleansing’ in the coming years.
The Purge: Anarchy is an enjoyable but silly pastime that entertains and makes you laugh. The key to enjoying these films is to leave logic at home. You shouldn’t think too much about this concept because you can pick holes in it at will. It’s a very flawed premise in which logic rarely enters. By asking an audience to believe that this state of affairs could all feasibly take place in the not-too-distant future is very a big ask too. So leave logic at the door and enjoy The Purge: Anarchy for what it is – a decent action-horror with some satirical social commentary and plenty of choice set-pieces.