Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Film Review - The Purge: Anarchy

Copyright: Universal Pictures
Some weeks ago, a police department had to respond to social media activity which suggested that a purge will take place in Louisville, underlining that no rise in criminal activity has taken place. A sheriff in Jacksonville had to do something similar when claims surfaced that a purge-like event is being organized there and set for August 31st.

Fortunately, there wasn’t a Louisville purge or a Jacksonville purge, but these incidents clearly show that people in the US, teenagers especially (who were mostly responsible for these hoaxes) are very drawn to the idea presented twice in two years by the movie The Purge: Anarchy.

The film is actually The Purge 2, and it is set in the same story environment as the movie The Purge, a relatively small horror piece made in 2013. Once again, the story revolves around the Purge, a national event in the near future of the US where a new government system has made all crime stop being illegal for 12 hours, once every year. This event is created as a means for people to purge themselves of bad feelings and thoughts, and many take up the opportunity.

This time, the protagonist isn't a family who desires to stay safe, but a former Sargent bent on finding one individual and ending their life. At the same time, several people just want to survive, but other forces have different plans for them on the night of the Purge.

James DeMonaco stayed on as director, and once again, he created an interesting film about the human killing instinct, taking it this time more towards action than horror (although he did keep the creepy masks). His group of actors, led by a very convincing Frank Grillo as the cold blooded Sargent, navigates the city during a Purge, killing or avoiding other people. Around them, different elements of the society do their best to preserve themselves or profit in some way, financially or emotionally, during this effect.

It’s easy to see why teenagers are drawn to this film. It shows a land with no laws, where the meek are destined to succumb to the strong if they find themselves in the wrong place. As a breeding ground for revenge fantasies, The Purge: Anarchy is very relatable to the violence in us, even though the film itself doesn’t force this idea in any way, at least verbally.

An interesting thing about this film is its absence of firearm fetishism, although its official poster, showing the American flag recreated from machine gun silhouettes (and other weapons too), points to this phenomenon. In this version of the US, many people simply do not own a gun, which seems a bit odd, having in mind that this scenario would be ideal for any fictional second amendment advocates. At the same time, the film explains that thanks to the Purge, crime diminished during the rest of the year; maybe people in the film feel that they don’t need guns.

But, in spite of this, I still think that every man, woman and child would own an AK47 (or something more ‘murican) along with a double, insurgent-style, duck-tapped magazine, if the Purge really existed. But, this would make this film into a one long shootout with assault rifles, and no one wants to see this.
In spite of this and other narrative flaws when it comes to a broader scope of the film, The Purge: Anarchy is a very dynamic movie that kept me interested.  If a real life purge would be to take place, I have a feeling that it would look much different than many segments of this film, mostly thanks to those which occur in the background, where someone less fortunate met a better armed and more sadistic citizen. Louisville purge and Jacksonville purge were hoaxes, but I don’t doubt that the emotional attraction to concept is very much present.