Friday, October 24, 2014

The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

Society is sick and has problems. There you go, that's all you need in terms of social commentary. You goddamn geniuses. Now you're basically done with storytelling for the rest of the movie in your first five minutes; you know, like any good movie. What can we do to fill up the rest? Just throw in gunfights and chase scenes from the bargain bin of 12-year-old thriller films ripping off Panic Room! Then have some serious faced scenes reiterating the social commentary at the end by saying “God Bless America” a lot!

Yeah, I guess that's good enough. We can go back to snorting cocaine in the bathroom now.

Or that's my interpretation behind the making of this film, anyway.

Director: James DeMonaco
Starring: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Kiele Sanchez

We start off this sequel to last year's The Purge with a bunch of people waiting to prepare for the annual Purge, the time space where all crime is legal for a year. Because it apparently makes the country better and helps the economy. If you can figure that one out, well, Ted Cruz has a space open for you right next to him on the campaign trail.

I guess the big change between the last movie and this one is that there are multiple different characters and storylines going on which converge eventually. But unlike most movies that try this, this one doesn't really try to develop it – the film just rushes through all the backstories with about as much caring as a hungover college student working on economics homework. 

If you want an example of the brilliant dialogue we have to look forward to, check this out, from some old lady talking about walking her dog or something: “He doesn't even like me anymore. He just wants to sniff your ass!” Well, thank you. Thank you so much for that gem of dialogue...

The two main girls are apparently mother and daughter, even though they look at most three or four years apart. I guess it's true, kids really are getting younger and younger. Their father is an old man who hates the Purge and also hates the new radical movement promising to destroy it. His solution is apparently to go offer himself to be killed by a bunch of rich people so his family can get money or something.

"There are probably easier ways I could have gotten you money, like cashing in those old savings bonds I have hidden in the attic, but I just like being dramatic!"

We never see him again and never see the money delivered to the girls, so this was an unpleasant, dark and nonsensical subplot that went nowhere. As you'll find out throughout the film, it's more interested in showing you DARK EDGY SHIT as a flimsy cover to disguise the fact that it has absolutely nothing to say. You know, showing bad things happening is good enough. That really drives home the point that bad things happen in real life. You guys are delivering messages we never heard of before!

There's also this other couple, who are considering getting a divorce and for some reason the most important aspect of this idea is telling the wife's sister. The husband, however, is having second thoughts and wants to reminisce about all the good times they had together.

You know, for all the insults I could hurl at this badly written plot, all that comes to mind is this: 

Their car breaks down on the side of the road, and now they're stranded on Purge night! Oh no! Even though you're clearly in an urban area and could easily find a place to hide all night, I guess this is now a big fucking deal. It's even more serious when the Joker's henchmen from The Dark Knight show up:

Not as scary without Heath Ledger, are they?

I guess the last main character is this guy, who is gearing up for some kind of revenge by trying all of these guns for the first time right now despite the fact that the Purge starts up any minute. Pfft. Being prepared is for nerds! 

"I bought these guns from some guy who repeatedly assured me while sweating profusely that he was NOT a cop in disguise trying to bust illegal gun buyers!"

The two Hispanic girls are in their house when their fat Breaking Bad wannabe landlord barges in and tries to kill them for not saying hi to him in the hallway, or some shit like that. Really not sure how this guy expects to keep any tenants the rest of the year if THIS is how he treats them now, but whatever; clearly that isn't a big deal at all in this universe.

"Conditions of your lease if you live here include no pets, don't leave any lasting damage on the walls, floor or bathroom, clean up after yourself and give me blowjobs whenever I break into your apartment and violently demand them!"

And ooh, such edgy social commentary about how people would KILL other people if it was legal because human beings are all scumbags deep down with no redeeming qualities! You're really doing a lot of good for the world by preaching that incredibly stupid, inaccurate generalization that has no basis in reality! You definitely shouldn't be eaten by a pack of rabid hyenas for perpetuating this kind of tinfoil hat nihilistic nonsense!

What follows after that is some pretty generic action/thriller bullshit, mostly full of dark alleys and running around and exclaiming banal things that wouldn't need to be said in real life, but are said here to explain what's going on. Like a character will say “oh no, we're surrounded!” No shit, really? I couldn't tell because I have tunnel vision and only see in one direction.

We have to use our legs to run or else they'll catch us, and if they catch us it'll be bad!

Or the badass “leader” dude will go “Duck! Keep moving! Go!” like a billion times when they're running away from people with guns. Oh really? When I saw that guy coming at me with an Uzi and shouting that he wanted to kill me, my first instinct was to stay here and enjoy the scenery, maybe camp out for a picnic!

Oh no, he's got a gun and that gun could probably kill us, and if it kills us, we're dead as fuck!

Dialogue is easy when you're a shitty writer with no real story in mind. You can just have various characters describe what's happening on screen and that will apparently, through some hellish sorcery of which I know not, make them three-dimensional characters. Teach us more of your magic, O Great Wizard.

There are some brief attempts at building character here and there, which mostly amount to this girl wiggling her eyebrows while the “daughter” (HA!) and that bland leader guy do some very, very minor flirting. Her eyebrows are the best actors in the movie.

At some point, they go to one of the characters' friend's houses or something, who is some annoying girl getting drunk off her ass while the rest of her family just sits around and acts miserable about that. Her husband comes in, who I'm sure is actually her cousin or something. Hello, West Virginia! 

What, did you escape from Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

Then that girl's sister, who she called fat a bunch of times in some passive aggressive way, goes insane and shoots up her entire family, because you know, your sister being a bitch is definitely a reason to murder your entire family. Because really, this scene is a mirror of how all American society really is, under the surface. This movie sees the TRUTH, man. Preach it! 


One of my favorite moments is when the grandfather kneels over his dead, drunk daughter's corpse after she was shot like five times and goes “Is she dead?” Well, maybe not. Try doing a rain dance over her body and then reciting from the Necronomicon – that ought to show if you she is or not. And it'd be more entertaining than anything else in the movie.

Out in the streets we get some more boring chase scenes, followed by more dialogue comprised of nothing but pointing out the obvious. It's really starting to get old at this point and I'm starting to see exactly how much I'm not exaggerating at all when I say all the dialogue is like this. It's seriously all there is in the fucking movie! No character development, no story being told, just telling us what we're seeing on screen!

Then they get kidnapped by a bunch of guys and shoved in a truck. I love the scene inside the truck when they're tied up and the main girl is like “Why are you doing this?” and the guy is like “Oh, we need money.”

Yeah you know...the same kids that these rich people would normally be trying to kill are now working for them. Awesome.

You need money? I guess getting a job or something was out of the question. “Hey, man, I heard Walmart was hiring down the street.” “NO! Fuck that! We're going to kidnap innocent people and truck them off to be killed on Purge Night!” “Won't that leave us with little income the rest of the year since this is a one night event?” “Ssshhhhh.”

Yeah, you know how it is – making sense isn't for cool kids anymore.

And get this – apparently they're shipped off to some fancy looking building owned by a bunch of rich people. Because in this world, being rich means you want to kill people randomly for sport. They don't have a reason to or anything – they're just bored. Being rich means being evil, and it doesn't matter how many rich people in real life donate to charity, help out good causes or propagate good things in the world – they're all just evil and want to kill the poor people. Glad the movie is keepin' it real.

"So what do you want to do after this?"
"Kicking puppies and stealing from orphans sounds good."
"Yes indeed...after all we are rich and that's all we do!"

Then they get hauled out into a discount Hunger Games arena and are hunted by a bunch of people wearing night vision goggles. Although we see those goggles don't really matter when the main guy can just jump them and take their guns and kill them instantly even without goggles. Either he's just got super vision or the room isn't that dark and you're just tools for thinking you needed night vision goggles. 

"You'll have to excuse how bad I am at this whole hunting humans thing! I've only ever done paintballing before this! I'm not exactly Count Zarloff!"

So then the one white married dude is kneeling down with his wife, and she tells him she still loves him – I guess being nearly killed several times is the cure for divorce. Start spreading the word! Except apparently her declaration of love is poison, as he then gets shot to shit.

"Hey honey, the shitty script thinks people in real life actually make up and decide not to divorce after a ridiculous scenario like this!"
What an ironic coinkydink...

I don't know how only HE got shot, seeing as they were all kneeling in the same place, but whatever! Continuity and making sense is for assholes.

Then the rebel leader guy comes in and the wife says she now wants to Purge, so she joins them and starts shooting shit up. Which is confusing, seeing as the rebel guys are all about ENDING the fucking Purge, but I guess this is supposed to be the movie's way of telling us that it's a gritty, hard-line, violent world and even the supposed good guys aren't that good. Except it doesn't work when you're not really saying anything besides that – just making a statement and showing us something doesn't work by itself. You need context and some kind of point.

If you can believe it, we actually have another last-minute plotline to cram into this movie's nonsense – the badass cool leader guy was actually on a mission all night long to go kill the guy who killed his son. Apparently it's some white-collar doofus who was driving at three times the legal Blood Alcohol limit and then somehow “got off on a technicality” after running over his son – because “getting off on a technicality” is the kind of vague story element you use when you don't know what you're doing.

Badass cool leader guy goes inside and wakes up the guy and points a knife at his face, forcing him to tell him “what his son looked like.” I dunno, the guy's only real answer is “I DON'T REMEMBER, I WAS REALLY DRUNK!”


Then we cut away and see badass cool leader guy coming out of the house. He gets shot by some other jackass, who comes up and goes on a long monologue about why the Purge is good for the country and all kinds of other psychobabble saying the same thing in different ways, that basically amounts to one thing: word vomit. You're really not even saying anything at this point, movie – you're just saying words to hear them come out, like a really annoying little child. And like most annoying little children, those of us who are adults will look upon this with condescension and promptly not take any of it seriously.

Frankly I'm just amazed this movie remembered there was colors aside from dark blue and green.
Then that guy gets shot by the hapless DUI child-murderer guy who the cool leader guy initially came to shoot – yes, apparently at the last second he had second thoughts, and now the would be victim saves the leader...for some reason. I don't know; it's hard to care about this story when we didn't know any of it until the last 10 fucking minutes of this movie.

People, this is not only the worst movie of 2014, it's also one of the worst films I've ever seen. I just hate this whole thing. Not only is it a poorly written mess with no characters, bad camerawork and a flimsy, dull storyline, it's also a complete hack-work when you look at it from the point of view of its ideology and message.

The film wants us to think it's smart and edgy with this whole “THIS IS WHAT WE'RE HEADING TOWARD IN 'MURICA” message, trying to tell us what we're seeing in this movie is a reflection of our societal climate right now – i.e. lots of violence and disarray and nothing else whatsoever. Well, if you think this movie is an accurate depiction of where the world is going right now, my suggestion is don't breed. Sterilize yourself. It's probably better for humankind as a whole.

She can see you any time now. In fact, you're first in line!

The movie's idea of social satire is to tell us things get SO bad that the government would actually “solve” the problem by making crime legal as a way to kill off those on the underbelly of society. Except really, there is no solution offered here, no greater purpose or message except “people are shit and they will kill each other for no reason.” If you want to have a nihilistic, depressing message, fine; but do it with more taste than this.

Because there's just no class to this. It's taking a complex issue like class warfare and the divide between rich and poor and boiling it down to “LOL! They're all just violent and would kill one another at the drop of a hat if given the chance!” No – there are far more pressing issues than that. The rich people are depicted as soulless cardboard cutout Saturday morning cartoon villains, and the poor are depicted as either crazy or babe-in-the-woods helpless, which is actually another level of there are no poor people in this world with the street smarts, weapons or resources to fight back? Are they really that much at the mercy of these rich people hiring mercenaries and shit? Seems to me like the writers just didn't know that much about real urban crime and violence - maybe stepping out of your parents' basement once in a while would have helped.

This picture probably isn't actually of the movie's writer.

Beyond even that, we come to the issue of the incredibly thin and transparent plot – this is a film where bad things happen just to drive home the despicable point I talked about above, which is that people are shit and bad things happen. There's really no attention paid to character or build up here. The girls' grandfather sells himself to be killed, and then it presumably happens and we don't see him again. The husband dies at the end and the wife becomes a bloodthirsty killing machine, and that's the last we see of her. These aren't characters, they're strawmen set up to prove the movie's shitty message: LOOK! THEY'RE ALL BAD PEOPLE! BAD THINGS HAPPEN IN LIFE! You puddle of shit.

It's just so fucking deplorable of a thing to say in a film. The worst part of it all is that there really was no care or direction to the message delivered here. This movie was just made so the filmmakers (and the audience, by extension) could feel smart and above the sheeple in society by pointing out where (according to their gross misinformation) we're really heading.

The people who wrote this don't really care about society's problems; they're just using those problems to feel like they're smarter than they really are, like they're in the privileged position of “knowing” while the rest of us are all ignorant masses.

Like a lot of bad dystopian stories, there's a big sense of smug self satisfaction reeking off this like corpse rot.

I really, really can't see much of an argument for enjoying this film or finding it intelligent or thought provoking. It's the lowest kind of trash in cinema. Let me tell you something, makers of The Purge: Anarchy – this is NOT a reflection of society, nor is it a statement about human nature. People are better than you think, and the world does have problems, but they're more complex and nuanced than you probably understand or comprehend. This movie is awful, plain and simple.

To put it simply, you failed at everything you were trying to do.

Images copyright of their original owners; I own none of them.