The Purge: Anarchy provides a moderate improvement over the first film, taking audiences to the streets on a night when all crime is permitted and further expanding on ideas only previously teased. The sequel cleanses itself in Ultra HD with a strong 4K HDR10 presentation, an excellent DTS:X soundtrack and the same assortment of supplements, making the overall package Worth a Look for fans of the series.
The first Purge was a clever twist on the home-invasion subgenre, but it was also riddled with a few problematic concerns and some well-intentioned socio-political leanings without fully embracing them. The sequel, Anarchy, offers a notable improvement over its predecessor by taking audiences out the homes of affluent neighborhoods and into the urban metropolitan streets where the real damage of this totalitarian ultraconservative fantasy can be witnessed. Set in the following year after the events of the first movie, the plot features — or at least, tries to establish — an ensemble cast of peaceable people doing their best to survive a 12-hour clock where all forms of crime are permissible. The helpless quartet — Eva Sanchez (Carmen Ejogo), her daughter Cali (Zoë Soul) and married couple Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez) — are led by Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo). And his character is the best part of this follow-up, an LAPD sergeant on a determined mission to purge who instead becomes the surly, reluctant anti-hero.
As the group dashes through the streets of Los Angeles in the hopes of finding safety, the audience beholds the devastation and havoc created by such a darkly-twisted thought experiment, confronting the possibility a good chunk of society could give in to their baser selves. Random, seemingly polite people commit horrible acts of violence as a means of letting out their frustrations and disappointments, as though somehow murder is a release of repressed anger. At its worst, some seize the opportunity to profit from the mayhem, such as a small band of street thugs, or take advantage of the so-called national "holiday" as a form of sport, such as the upper-class Purgers. But the more intriguing aspects are paramilitaries with semi-trailer trucks targeting lower-class areas and an anti-Purge resistance group that includes the stranger (Edwin Hodge) from the last movie. Writer and director James DeMonaco returns to The Purge: Anarchy not only for the world-building but to further expand on the ideas he only teased about previously. However, subtlety is completely lost here, making it more of a live-action version of Grand Theft Auto than some inventive political statement.
For a more in-depth take on the movie, you can read our review of the Blu-ray HERE.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings The Purge: Anarchy to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack with a flyer for a Digital Copy. When redeeming said code via UPHE.com, Movies Anywhere and VUDU, users can access the 4K HDR10 with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1. The dual-layered UHD66 disc sits comfortably opposite a Region Free, BD50 disc inside a black, eco-vortex case with a glossy slipcover. At startup, the disc goes straight to a menu screen with a static image of the cover art and music playing in the background.
All mayhem breaks loose on the wild streets of Ultra HD with a good-looking but somewhat of a mixed-bag HEVC H.265 encode, which more than likely has been upscaled from the 2K digital intermediate.
For a good chunk of the runtime, the 2160p transfer offers a welcomed uptick in terms of definition, but overall resolution is not a massive jump. Fine lines in the clothing, equipment, and protective gear are nicely detailed while wear, tear and scratches along armored cars and other vehicles are distinct, and the cracks, pockmarks and minor imperfections of various buildings are quite revealing. Unfortunately, there is also fair amount of faint posterization visible throughout and most noticeable in daylight exteriors. It's not quite as egregious or distracting as in the first movie, but it's there nonetheless. This appears to be the result of both the stylized cinematography and contrast levels that run much too hot, which also appears to be intentional, as a way of reflecting the LA climate. Whites are significantly brighter, almost blindingly so, but they tend to bloom considerably as well while highlights add a notable sparkle and twinkle to the picture without also showing any better clarity or fine detailing within the brightest and hottest spots, such as lamps.
However, this deliberate look plays particularly well at night, which thankfully is most of the movie, and interestingly, the 4K presentation is best when the characters are running outside in the streets than when hiding indoors, such Tanya's apartment, or after being captured and hunted for sport. Black levels are notably richer and silkier, showering the 2.40:1 image with inky, midnight shadows. Sadly, finer details are often engulfed by the darkest, murkiest corners, and there is very little if any better distinction between the various shades with certain aspects often looking like oily, jet-black blobs. Colors, on the other hand, pop with a bit more vitality and energy, especially the greens, which seems to be a prominent hue choice, and the warm yellow lighting, bathing the screen in a buttery golden cast. The reds of various lights are oddly of a hot pink or magenta tone while blood seems more crimson. The rest of the palette is largely limited and restrained, looking similar to its HD SDR counterpart while facial complexions appear pale and flushed.
Again, much of this is probably the result of Jacques Jouffret's creative photography, making it arguably faithful to those intentions, but it nonetheless doesn't make for an attractive presentation at home. (Video Rating: 74/100)
Anarchy reigns supreme thanks to a new DTS:X soundtrack that frankly doesn't improve much on its DTS-HD 5.1 counterpart. In fact, it feels quite similar with much of the action spread throughout the fronts while a bit of that activity is occasionally elevated to the top heights, but it's not enough to truly feel any more immersive than before.
Instead, Nathan Whitehead's score does better at generating an engaging and welcoming half-dome soundstage, lightly bleeding into the sides and overheads while enjoying the extra breathing room with finer fidelity and warmth. The mid-range exhibits distinct clarity and separation during the loudest, chaotic moments, and vocals are precise and well-prioritized in the center at all times. A variety of atmospheric effects, such as the screams of victims or the commotion of random acts of violence in the distance, employ the surrounds on various occasions with smooth, fluid panning between each speaker, delivering a few satisfying enveloping moments. But most impressive is a robust and forceful low-end that provides gunshots with a weighty impact and the cars, especially Leo's armored Dodge Charger, with a deep grumbling and imposing presence.
On the whole, the mix is quite enjoyable and overall satisfying, but it's a significant over its predecessor. (Audio Rating: 78/100)
All the same supplements are ported over from previous home video release, which can be read in more detail in our review of the standard Blu-ray HERE.
Writer and director James DeMonaco returns to his Purge franchise with Anarchy not only for the world-building but to further expand on the sociopolitical ideas only teased about in the first movie. Starring Frank Grillo as hardened LAPD sergeant Leo Barnes, the sequel is a moderate improvement over its predecessor by taking audiences into the violent streets of "Purge" night, but in the end, the dystopian story feels more like an exhaustive gameplay of Grand Theft Auto than the thriller it desperately desires to be. The movie arrives on Ultra HD with a strong 4K HDR10 presentation that offers a welcomed upgrade over its HD SDR counterpart and an excellent DTS:X soundtrack. Porting over the same set of supplements as the Blu-ray, the overall package is tempting and worth a look only for fans of the franchise.