Better but still not that great.
After my disappointment with the first in the series, I was not looking forward to the sequel The Purge: Anarchy, but surprisingly I had a much better time watching it because the story opened up a lot more different scenarios. But just to be clear, it’s still a bad film overall as it’s not flawless in the slightest. However, compared to the original, it was a much-needed burst of resurgence given I was predicting the series should go through a purge of its own and be killed off entirely.
The biggest aspect that worked for The Purge: Anarchy was the expansion of the storyline to follow three sets of people. It was a good decision to split up the plot into these groups of characters because not only did it allow for a different range of characters to enjoy but it also opened up the landscape for where the story could be headed. Especially since this time we were taken to the streets of where the “Purge” chaos was happening, instead of being confined to some house like a creepy spinoff of Home Alone. That step towards the outside in the narrative was another good choice by the writers. I enjoyed the fact that I could explore the outside with these characters and get an insight of how it all looks on that fateful night.
Having said that, I was still hoping for a lot more out of this film. I wished that the three groups of characters didn’t meet up so quickly and become essentially stuck together. It would have been better to see three parallel storylines occurring and then, later, they all meet up, say towards the final act or the very end. Some of the characters weren’t really that interesting to me and could be annoying at times (yet again). It wasn’t the same level as my hatred for the children (especially the daughter) in the first film, but it was still noticeable, and I definitely had a few favorites which goes back to how they were written. Though I will say that I did care more about any of their lives and was more sympathetic to them being in danger overall than the characters in the first film.
My other biggest complaint was with the runtime that was way too long and tried to fit in too many scenarios that were basically all the same. At an hour and forty-seven minutes long, this is just way too much time for an action horror set piece. I noticed by the time the third act kicked in, which came far too late and was completely unnecessary to throw in or should have come much earlier in the film. The situations basically followed the same idea of making their way through the city at night, coming into trouble, fighting off and surviving that encounter, then repeating it again. When that happens over and over again for such a long time, you can’t help but zone out.
The film also doesn’t really squash the same complaints that I have with the first Purge film, with how the whole concept works. I guess they just decided to leave it as it is, given it worked so well in the first place so why bother changing it. But aside from taking the story to explore the outside world a lot more, it also really didn’t add to the mythology of this dystopian universe. Sure, I can see a couple of interesting aspects were thrown in, which I won’t devolve into to keep this spoiler free, but for the most part, the concept of the film is just an excuse or reasoning to see action sequence after action sequence. It seems like no one really wanted to add anything else remotely intelligent or thought-provoking about the film’s premise.
So, having said what worked better compared to the first, there is still a lot that drags this film down overall and as such, I don’t recommend you waste your time watching it. Yes, this film could in all honesty be (or should have been) the first in the series, because it does a lot more with the script compared to the original. If you’re still interested in seeing how an interesting concept like the Purge night would work in a film, I’d suggest starting from The Purge: Anarchy and moving onwards. But other than, I wouldn’t really be jumping out of my seat to see it. And with that I say. Skip it.