THE PURGE: ANARCHY doesn't try to but ends up being the modern day ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. It just has that vibe to it. The film presents a recognizable future similar to our modern times with a slightly dystopian twist. In ESCAPE the government controlled America entirely and sent anyone who disobeyed to prison that happened to be the entire city of New York. ANARCHY has no walls but an annual government sanctioned event called The Purge where everyone can "purge" the beast within by killing just about anyone they want and it is totally legal. Both are action movies and both have an action hero lead. I think that is one of the big surprises with ANARCHY. I wasn't expecting this film to be so action packed with a strong badass hero. I also didn't expect this film to a slight variation of the zombie film either.
The first PURGE film took place in a house showing the chaos of the world around them during the actual Purge event through quick glimpses of the television set. The sequel takes us through that world led by a man with no name and a big gun who reluctantly helps out some folks who were being kidnapped and tries to lead them to safety. The movie explores the different types of people who participate in the Purge as well as those who don't. There are some refreshing ideas put on the screen that are not what I was expecting. One of the best ideas is that most people do not participate in the Purge. That is a big motivator for the bad guys in this film. I won't spoil why but I just figured that in a movie like this the writer would just assume that most people are evil and would not spend a second thought to participate in legalized murder. I believe most people are good and would not participate making the whole event pointless. The writers take the same approach which adds a different level to the story. There is a little more of a conspiracy brought out into the light. Often action movies get muddled in complicated conspiracy plots made to make a dumb action film look smart but here the conspiracy stuff doesn't slow down the movie one bit.
Who would take part in the Purge? You never know until it happens. The Purge is a mindset. The most unlikely of persons who seem peaceful in their everyday life could all of a sudden realize that they have an opportunity to right a wrong or get revenge and it would be legal and encouraged by the government. It is your right! Anyone could come to that realization even if they started out the night truly believing that murder is wrong. That is where the "zombie" element comes into play. Anyone can become a zombie just like anyone can suddenly participate in the Purge. No one can be trusted. It is an exciting concept exploited by this film. There is a particularly good where this is demonstrated as we see a loving family torn apart because one of the family members decides to participate in the purge over jealousy. In this society you better be nice to everyone around you because come Purge night they may just come after you.
Frank Grillo should be the next Punisher. Grillo is amazing in this film. He was perfectly cast as the man with no name. He even looks like the freakin Punisher dressed all in black with a armored black car and a full arsenal on him at all times. He knows exactly how to survive in this world of violence. Without a doubt he carries this film and thankfully this film focuses a lot of it's attention on him. He is a man out for revenge and nothing will stop him from getting it. Will he? The other characters that accompany him are likable and don't get in the way too much. There are some genuinely good story arcs to these characters and you do by the end care about who lives and who dies. Again I wasn't expecting that.
ANARCHY is a well filmed movie with a lot of it's more iconic elements coming from the disturbing costumes of some of the crazies that plan on participating in the Purge. The camera does get a little frantic when some of the action takes place but it doesn't become excessive to the point you can't follow what is going on. That is probably my only real complaint about the film. While it is mostly grounded in reality the film isn't afraid to get a little crazy with some of it's premises. I particularly liked the part when our heroes are kidnapped and put into an arena to fight some rich folks who bid in an auction to hunt them down. It is something out of a comic but it doesn't get too crazy with it. It is just another moment for Frank Grillo to demonstrate why he should be the next Punisher. Marvel you better be reading this.
Go see this film and try not to think too hard about it. You may just discover some plot holes I never thought of and that might ruin what is otherwise a great action/horror hybrid.