The Purge: Anarchy Blu-ray Review
“Reminder, all emergency services will be suspended for a 12-hour period during the purge.”
A voice reverberates through the airwaves notifying the general public the annual Purge is about to begin. For 12 hours all crime will be legal, a world where everything goes. It’s a harsh (hopefully alternative) future, one in which the country is now ruled with a sort of marshal-dictatorial slant by a group called the New Founding Fathers. The ground-rules were established in THE PURGE, the first movie in this franchise, released just over a year ago to mixed critical success. Yet THE PURGE had such an incredible return on the small investment that it has already warranted a sequel, realized in this year’s THE PURGE: ANARCHY, which has just arrived to Blu-ray.
I won’t go back over all the rules of the Purge, which are amply covered throughout both films, but the basics are this: all crime is legal for 12 hours once per year. This is an opportunity for anyone who participates in the Purge to let out all of their aggression, to purge their souls and become once again clean. And the surprising thing? It actually appears to be working. Unemployment is lower than ever. Crime rates are nearly nonexistent. The world appears to be a truly better place… but there are hints, rumors of disquiet and theories that state that the Purge is actually a way to get rid of the homeless, the poor. That the government actually uses the night as a way to literally wash the streets clean with blood.
But where THE PURGE dealt only with the events of a single Purge and its affect on a wealthy white suburbanite family, THE PURGE: ANARCHY goes further into the reasoning behind and the effects of the Purge on our society. Once again we view a single Purge event, but this time we get to see it through the eyes of three distinct groups of people: a single mother and her teenage daughter, a young couple facing a separation, and a lone man who is out to purge for his own reasons.
The premise of THE PURGE: ANARCHY and its predecessor THE PURGE, are pretty interesting and just AWESOME! I mean, both movies have a ton of potential. But THE PURGE: ANARCHY never really pays off on that potential; for a host of reasons. The first is that each character in the film is given some preternaturally schlocky job and backstory. The single mom who happens to have dark skin and can’t make ends meet. The couple facing the fact that they don’t really know each other and haven’t communicated with each other in so long they don’t really know how. The police officer who goes rogue to find justice when failed by the justice system.
These stereotypes and clichés could be functional storytelling elements; they could give the audience a place to start our adventure. They could be flipped on their head to throw the audience off the trail as they try to understand the story. They could do anything if the filmmaker or the writers had taken a few moments to flush them out. But they didn’t and we’re left with the tropes, these caricatures on screen, who never really go anywhere. They never grow or learn. They just are what they are and, sadly, that’s insufficient.
In summation: THE PURGE: ANARCHY is a study in lost potential. The story hints at a lot of interesting possibilities but the filmmakers and the writers were unable to make decisions and we’re left with a mess. The fun moments don’t serve to propel the story forward and are too few and far between. It all makes me a little bit sad for Frank Grillo who is the one shining light in this movie for me. His performance is the only nuanced thing in this movie. This is really a movie for HUGE fans of the original.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 1.85:1) THE PURGE: ANARCHY features a very nice transfer with only a few flaws in some of the darkest scenes with some issues with the deepest blacks. They are few and far between, though, so they don’t pull you out of the story. In fact most of the issues I saw were in the very first few minutes of the film so you don’t have to worry about them throughout.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The sound for THE PURGE: ANARCHY is a triumph in sound presentation and mixing. This is outwardly an action flick but there is actually a large amount of dialogue that is easily heard regardless of the situation.
Deleted Scenes (07:59) Five scenes cut from THE PURGE: ANARCHY are presented for fans on the Blu-ray. Sadly most are the kind of fodder that needed to be cut, scenes that don’t really add any value to the final film and, in fact, probably would have hurt the pacing.are the same as most deleted scenes you’ll find on a Blu-ray or DVD; nothing really value-added, nothing that’s going to change from putting them into this already lengthy action thriller. Featured scenes include: Eva Doesn’t Get a Raise; Shane’s Job Search; Shane and Liz Car Fight; Dog Attack; and Carmelo Coda.
Behind the Anarchy (08:29) The cast and crew discuss their work on THE PURGE: ANARCHY and why they decided to tell a different type of story with this sequel.
THE PURGE: ANARCHY Blu-ray also includes a DVD copy and features both an iTunes Digital Copy in HD and an Ultraviolet DigitalHD Digital Copy.