The Purge was one of my most anticipated films last year, but it turned out being extremely disappointing. And I wasn’t alone in feeling this way. In fact, many people I know absolutely hated the movie and said that they definitely wouldn’t see this sequel. And for a long time, I didn’t plan on seeing this one either. However, once the marketing kicked in, I realized something: this is what the first Purge should have been, but since they had budgetary constraints, they couldn’t do much. Now, with the sequel, they could finally make the film that many movie-goers wanted to see in the first place.
Sadly, this is one of those cases where the film tries to cram way too much into a short amount of time. There are a lot of cool and interesting ideas on display here, but there is so much going on all at once that all these plot points get all jumbled up, creating a huge mess. And trying to make the film longer would only worsen things, as the film can get quite dull during its “quieter” moments, due to some uninteresting and, quite frankly, stale dialogue provided by writer/director James DeMonaco.
Ironically, the whole “Anarchy” aspect of the film feels the most out of place here. It never feels developed enough and there’s not much build-up to it, leading to a quite anti-climatic conclusion to that section of the story. They could have easily saved this aspect for the inevitable sequel, and I really do hope that they bring it back because that story had potential. But like I said, it just gets meshed in with all the other plot points, which in way turns it into nothing more than a slightly amusing sub-plot.
Something that I will give DeMonaco credit for is that, despite both of these Purge films being less than stellar, they both feel like they’re at least trying to be ambitious and deliver some sort of social commentary, something that can’t be said about most horror films today. Now, this is more of an action-survival flick than it is a horror film like the first one, taking cues from The Warriors and Escape from New York, which I actually liked better than the slasher aspect of the first one. This is what most people wanted out of the first one, anyway. And even though it is slow at times, a lot of what happens in the film kept me intrigued and to my surprise, the film wasn’t as predictable as I thought it would be.
Anarchy also has a stronger lead performance this time around, thanks to Frank Grillo. Playing a character who is essentially The Punisher from the Marvel movies, Grillo carries the film on his back and yet again proves why he’s one of the more underrated actors working today. Without him, this movie probably would have derailed, as the rest of the actors leave something to be desired.
The open-world look on this “holiday” is just what this sequel needed, because without it, I doubt many people would have even wanted to see this. It gave the sequel more room to work with and more situations to display that they couldn’t quite show in the first installment. Sadly, DeMonaco tries to stuff way too much into one movie, causing the film to feel quite bloated and even convoluted with all the different gangs and people to follow. This is the main issue that I had in the film (as well as some of the acting), but I admire the ambition on display here, even if it mostly fails.
An admirable step-up in quality and thrills when compared to the first film, but DeMonaco just isn’t skilled enough as a director or writer to tackle these admittedly intriguing ideas all at once. Maybe next time he won’t “release the beast” like the rest of the Purgers and take a step back to either work on writing better characters and dialogue or focus on some smaller, but more interesting ideas that this franchise has in store, particularly what happens after said “purging”. But then you’d just have those idiots saying that there wasn’t enough action or killing in it, even if it was a better movie because of that. That’s America for you, ladies and gentlemen.
“We’ll see you on the hunting ground!”
2.5 out of 5