This-Is-Dystopia! The Purge: Anarchy (2014)
One of the most batshit, yet amusing concepts in Horror films, goes to Blumhouse’s the Purge where the United States is ruled by a totalitarian government known as the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA), that legalizes all crimes without the intervention of authority i.e. Police, SAT, etc., as a means of having saved America’s collapsing economy. On the surface, the Purge is initiated as a means of using aggression to contain crime yet underneath the legislation's layers, it's something more devious, to exterminate the poor especially when people of color are concerned.
"The Purge: Anarchy" is a 2014 American dystopian action thriller film directed and written by James DeMonaco. The film is the sequel to "The Purge" and follows a group of people who are stranded outside during the annual Purge, a 12-hour period where all crime, including murder, is legal in the United States. Nearly every indecent degenerate is anxious to paint the town red, from Ultra-Nationalists, Right-wing Anarchists, White Supremacists, Rich elites, to religious fanatics. All the kooks who make up for a certain and hopefully soon to be arrested former President. The premise at first, sounds satirical but a well-timed metaphor that reflects today's social climate. Action star Frank Grillo makes his official debut as the headliner of this sequel as “Sergeant", an enigmatic loner who participates in the Purge, for personal reasons. When witnessing an attempted murder, he reluctantly intervenes and that’s where the sequel gains traction.
While I praised the film's exploration of the social and political implications of the Purge, as well as its action sequences and suspenseful plot, my major critique is the film's characters being undercooked and in various circumstances, stereotypical regarding the Hispanic cast members. However, as a big “plus” one of the strengths of this sequel is its depiction of several ways that people respond to the Purge demonstrating how the annual event affects people differently based on their class, race, and social status. The action sequences are also well-executed and intense, with Grillo’s Sergeant channeling Frank Castle aka Marvel’s Punisher.
And in many ways, I’m so disappointed that Mr. Grillo wasn’t picked for Netflix’s Punisher during the Daredevil series’ run. No offense to Jon Bernthal, but Grillo looks and acts more like the iconic fictional vigilante. Aside from the Sergeant, some of the supporting characters in the film are somewhat two-dimensional as in lacking depth. Additionally, the film's portrayal of the Purge as a means of "cleansing" society of undesirables may sound simplistic at first, but in these times, is not too far-fetched.
While our protagonists find themselves on the run evading would be predators, they run afoul with less than fortunate situations, one includes an arena of sport hosted by a cabal of sadistic wealthy hunters who host a fight to the death game show reminiscent to the Hunger Games or 2000’s Battle Royale. While there are several antagonists who foreshadows the MAGA mob, an anti-Purge resistance unit led by revolutionary, Camello Johns played by the late Michael K. Williams who makes a brief cameo appearance calvary style.
One of the strengths of "The Purge: Anarchy" is its exploration of the social and political implications of the Purge. “Anarchy” suggests that the Purge is a tool of the wealthy elite to maintain power and control over the lower classes, who are most affected by the violence of the annual event. In some bizarre way, one can resonate with the implementation of the Purge, be it to settle a score with someone who harmed you, your loved ones, or righting a wrong in the case of a stockbroker who robbed many clients out of their pension savings. It’s unapologetic meta, is relevant, thought-provoking and adds depth to what can be easily judged as a formulaic B-movie thriller scenario.
I can’t help but once again mention that the action sequences are well-executed and intense, aligned with plenty of suspense and gore to satisfy fans of the horror genre. (After all, it’s still a Blumhouse production.) However, some yes, the film lacks some of the suspense and scares of the original "Purge" film with certain outcomes being predictable. And while the group of survivors is diverse and interesting, their backgrounds and motivations are not fleshed out enough to make them memorable. Overall, "The Purge: Anarchy" is a check your brain at the door thriller with its strongest asset, thought provoking social commentary. It’s a well-placed addition to the franchise.
Fans of The Warriors, The Running Man, and Escape from New York, would regret not watching this underrated cult classic. The Purge Anarchy is now streaming on HBO MAX
So, as with most of my This-is-Dystopia segments, I mention the relevance between fictional based films and what’s occurring now, or to paraphrase Jack Kirby’s OMAC, “The World that’s Coming!”
While The Purge series was obviously influenced by real life atrocities of mob mentality within the United States, “purging” defenseless communities, as in black communities from the Rosewood massacres, Tulsa Oklahoma Race riots, or the Five points riots in NYC, the films’ foreshadowing is somewhat on point as there have been isolated occurrences of Ultra-Right Wing mob-related hate crimes during the Charlotte protests, Covid lockdown, and recently an horrific incident where a black man was being chased by a bunch of angry white individuals, which resulted in him being decapitated. There are several well funded Neo Conservative Think Tank provocateurs or Media outlets such as, The Manhattan Institute,Breitbart, or Ben Shapiro's Daily Wire, that is responsible for shitstirring the less informed and ignorant populace, that motivate them into taking physical action against marginalized groups, when ranting about culture wars and what they codified as "Wokeness."
The Purge is a blatant metaphor for “Sundown town.” Now here’s the kick in the nuts part; At the start of the movie, New Founding Fathers of América's, Donald Talbot initiates the 24 annual Purge now as of this writing of March 20th, 2023, disgraced former President Donald J. Trump is expected to be arrested for having “committed a crime by disguising a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016 as a legal expense rather than as an expenditure aimed at boosting his then-ongoing presidential campaign.” In a desperate gesture, Trump urges his supporters to form a protest to “take our country back” now if you have “fond” recollections of what occurred on Jan 6th 2021, lets just say that things didn’t turn out peacefully. Trump’s potential indictment is scheduled for March 21st, 2023.