The more than comes out about The Purge: Anarchy, the more excited I get to see it. What I initially feared was a rushed—less than a year from announcement to theater—sequel intended to capitalize on the success of the low-budget The Purge, has started to look pretty badass. There’s a definite gritty, 1970s revenge-thriller vibe, and when you throw in a few dystopian notes, a touch of Running Man, and a little Judgment Night, you have my full attention. And this latest trailer is even crazier than everything we’ve already seen.
While The Purge was essentially a contained home-invasion story with limited locations and cast, Anarchy opens up the playing field and provides a wider view of the world. Instead of focusing on a single family and place, you get to experience what happens in the city when all crime is legal for one night. That’s the general conceit of these films, that in the near future crime is so out of control that the government sanctions a 12-hour period where you can do whatever you want and embrace all of your most base desires with no legal ramifications. And apparently venting in this manner works. Who knew?
You see people preparing for the evening, rushing to get home or get out of town, barricading themselves in for the night, and taking up arms to protect themselves and their people. You also get to see the other side, where people who use this opportunity to get nuts, do horrible things, and soak themselves in blood, free from consequences.
Frank Grillo’s (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) character Leo falls somewhere in the middle of these two groups. He’s obviously been plotting and planning for this night for some time, and though there is no specifics given, you get the impression that someone may have killed his son, probably during a Purge, and he’s out for a little payback. But even though he may intend to do some bad things on this particular evening, you can tell he’s not necessarily a bad man. Again, this is an idea used in many grim 70s exploitation films, a good man capable of going bad things. You see who he really is when he intervenes to save a group of strangers, despite the unwritten rule that the Purge “can’t have heroes.”
Leo’s heroics only lead him into trouble, as you see here, as he and his new friends stumble into all kinds of sticky situations. And there’s not just street crime, it isn’t just thugs and hooligans who want to get into the action, crazy ass rich people have their own things going on. Borrowing a page from “The Most Dangerous Game,” you can pay to hunt humans if you’re rich and bored enough.
I don’t necessarily expect The Purge: Anarchy to be great cinema, but it does look like a throwback to an earlier age of cinema, and the kind of movie that doesn’t get made much anymore these days. And even when someone does make this type of film, it usually goes straight to DVD/Blu-ray/VOD, not to theaters. We’ll have to wait until July 18 to see if James DeMonaco’s film lives up to my expectations, but it definitely looks like it could be lot of brutal fun.