Director: James DeMonaco (The Purge)
Starring: Frank Grillo, Kiele Sanchez, Zach Gilford, Carmen Ejogo
Run-time: 103 minutes
IN SHORT: Anarchy is a well-intentioned sequel that attempts, and mostly succeeds, to atone for the mistakes made in the first movie.
The overwhelming consensus on 2013's The Purge was that it wasted the intriguing 'all crime is legalised' premise and raised more questions than it answered. It did, however, make an absolute truckload of money for its indie production company, Blumhouse Productions. Naturally, this paved the way for a follow-up - The Purge: Anarchy. Keep your cynicism at bay though because Anarchy is a well-intentioned sequel that attempts, and mostly succeeds, to atone for the mistakes made in the first movie. Whereas The Purge was extremely limited in its scope, Anarchy's more incisive script sheds light on some of the finer points concerning the annual 'purge' such as, 'what do banks do with their money?', 'what's the government's involvement?' and 'are there any groups that actively oppose it?', resulting in a more satisfying movie.
Although billed as a horror movie, Anarchy is best described as an action/thriller as man kills man on the streets of Los Angeles. With its ugly, dark tone and semi-futuristic narrative, James DeMonaco's movie has a lot in common with great 80's actioners like The Warriors and Escape From New York. And Frank Grillo's nameless anti-hero, who finds himself lumped with four people he reluctantly saved from death, is a further homage to that earlier style of film-making. Grillo plays the role with a huge amount of gravitas, his sheer intensity is easily the most compelling aspect of the movie. There's also a mystery that haunts his character; why is he out on purge night with a duffel bag full of weaponry? Do the other survivors dare trust a man who can snap a neck with such ease?
Whilst Anarchy is filled with adrenaline-pumping action scenes and a commanding performance from the stoic Frank Grillo, it disappoints as a horror movie. Considering the premise and the abundance of possibilities that it can entail, the violence is rather tame, bloodless and not truly fitting of the word 'anarchy'. Several brutal scenes are negated by DeMonaco's decision to cut away before the death blow is landed. And the eerily masked hoodlums that are plastered all over the movie's promotional material prove to be underwhelming. Putting those negatives aside, The Purge: Anarchy is an entertaining and tense tale of survival that expands upon the first movie so much, it renders it useless.