Film Face-off: 'The Purge' vs. 'The Purge: Anarchy'

Film Face-off: 'The Purge' vs. 'The Purge: Anarchy'

Jul 21, 2014

While it's technically not 7 p.m. on March 21, we can feel it in our bones. It's the Purge! The night when all crime is legal for 12 hours. That's right, we can download music, swipe a free Coke Zero at the local five and dime, or even rip off all of the tags on our mattresses at home. No consequences.

The 2013 film The Purge decided to focus on theft, rape and murder instead of those other crimes. Actually, while it talked about other misdeeds, it really tended to focus on the murder. It scored a 38 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, so why do we have The Purge: Anarchy? So we can do a Film Face-off of The Purge versus The Purge: Anarchy... and because the original made $64 million with a budget of only $3 million.


The Real Plot

The Purge

It's an attempted home invasion.

The Purge: Anarchy

There is chaos in the streets.

Winner: The Purge. People are trying to get into the house. That's always a decent movie device. The added wrinkle here is a family's son (Max Burkholder) allows a man (Edwin Hodge) to seek refuge in their home. The family must decide if they are going to kick the guy out or protect him, putting their lives at risk. With the sequel, it's chaos, it's anarchy, it's odd directions that feel even thinner logically then when they tried to explain the concept of the Purge to us the first time around.


The Masks

The Purge

Rhys Wakefield, known in the credits as Polite Leader, wears a mask, along with his buddies, as they invade the Sandin home.

The Purge: Anarchy

Keith Stanfield, known in the credits as Young Ghoul Face, wears a mask, along with his buddies, as they track down Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez).

Winner: The Purge: Anarchy. The masks are the only reason we can see these films being called horror movies. Otherwise, it's just action, right? With that said, the motivation of the masks in the first one makes a little more sense. These are upper class young people who probably don't want to go to a job interview or hang out at the country club and have people say, "Wasn't that you and your friends I saw going after a black man who didn't do anything to deserve it on Purge night?" But, were the masks scary? Nope, not at all. With The Purge: Anarchy these are people we don't know, Shane and Liz don't know, and it doesn't matter at all what they look like, so there is zero need for a mask. But, the masks are scary. Stanfield's says "God" and the other masks visually look like they continue into the skin of the people wearing them. Ideally, if you're walking down a dark alley, you'd choose to bump into The Purge masks over The Purge: Anarchy any day of the week.


The Main Man 

The Purge

James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) is the best salesman for Purge home security protection, then his house gets broken into and he must protect his family.

The Purge: Anarchy

Sergeant (Frank Grillo) gears up and goes out on Purge night. He is out to right a wrong committed on his family, but then gets mixed up protecting others.

Winner: The Purge: Anarchy. This surprised us. Hawke was the best thing going in The Purge. Hawke is especially great after the extended action sequence when he took out three villains only to get stabbed. Sergeant just kept growing on us as the film went along. He is the action star who'd rather not talk. He's all business. In fact, here's a pitch for how The Purge: Anarchy could have been much better... Sergeant goes out with the same motivation to seek revenge on those who wronged his family. He keeps running into people whom he naturally tries to protect (because he's a good guy) and they keep getting killed. He can't protect them because it's anarchy. He's trying to save everyone, but can't save anyone. Heck, you can even keep the ending, but don't have to waste our time with Shane, Liz, Eva (Carmen Ejogo), Cali (Zoë Soul), Tanya (Justina Machado), Papa Rico (John Beasley) and Carmelo (Michael K. Williams).


The Special Woman

The Purge

Mary Sandin (Lena Headey) is trying to keep her family alive.

The Purge: Anarchy

Cali thinks the Purge is bad. She's also trying to survive.

Winner: The Purge. This has nothing to do with having Game of Thrones blinders on for Headey. We are constantly told Cali is special because she thinks Carmelo (the leader of the revolution) is special. We're also told she has the same fighting spirit as Sergeant's son. Unfortunately, we don't see anything extraordinarily special from her. Mary, on the other hand, takes a shotgun and rams it into the nose of her neighbor and says, "Didn't you hear what I said? No more killing tonight." It's the highlight of the film.


The Weak Logic

The Purge

James sells a really good security system, but it's only effective 99 percent of the time (including his). We also never see anything interesting about the security system. James' daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane) has a boyfriend named Henry (Tony Oller) who tries to kill James. We assume this is to be with Zoey, but never learn the reason. This Purge takes place in 2022, less than a decade from now. There is no attempt to explain how it was passed into law.

The Purge: Anarchy

Sergeant decides to take four people to a house, so he can borrow a car to continue his mission. He never tries to steal a car, but it seems like this would have been the perfect night for such an activity. Supposedly the government uses the Purge as a chance to control the population and point to the low unemployment rate. At one point, Carmelo screams that it's time for the "rich bitches" to die, then kills a bunch of working-class waiters (with guns). Shane and Liz drive somewhere in the afternoon, just a few hours before the Purge.

Winner: The Purge. We would have thought they would have cleared up some logic, instead they just added to the... anarchy. The sequel plays out like a haunted house. Each section is different, with nothing connecting each piece together. There is no concern for why something occurs, just that it might be interesting to look at for a few moments. At the end of The Purge: Anarchy the city is burning, and the hospitals are overrun. How is this cost effective? Also, if you steal someone's car, do you have to give it back the next day? Shouldn't Eva and Cali just planned on stealing the medicine for Papa Rico and called it a day? In fact, why doesn't anyone steal?


OVERALL WINNER: The Purge beats The Purge: Anarchy, 3-2.

There is something here with these films. We can all see it, but it's just moments. First off, we don't need the Purge to justify the upper class killing the lower class to have a movie. Just look at Surviving the Game with Ice-T and Rutger Hauer. The only crime that should be legal in these films is killing, everything else is way too complicated and doesn't feel plausible. Also, both films talk about the Purge working, but think about what it really does. It's an excuse for action. We believe in the potential of The Hunger Games because it's the distant future, with many over-the-top characters, and a quality actress in Jennifer Lawrence leading the way. This Purge world is less than a decade from now, and again, somehow someone said the way to solve America's problems is to commit crime for one night. We want to laugh at most things said during both films, but it doesn't seem the creators feel the same way. The one thing The Purge: Anarchy definitely does give us is a surprising, compelling performance from Grillo.




Categories: Features, In Theaters
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