"The Forever Purge" is the fifth and supposedly final chapter in the Purge franchise, and it has a lot of big ideas it looks to tackle. The saga has expanded its world since the first 2013 film, which took place all at one house. In subsequent chapters, we got to see a wider perspective of the annual 12-hour killing holiday known as "The Purge," where all crime - including murder - is made legal, an outlet which has apparently made America a better place.
The scariest part about "The Forever Purge" is how it tackles some real-world issues, albeit clumsily, presenting a dystopian version of our country that - in the wake of the 1/6 insurrection - doesn't seem all that far-fetched. For the first time in the saga, the events depicted feel like something that could actually happen...it's too bad that the film didn't take a smarter overall approach.
If you're wondering why the world needs another Purge movie, it's because they've been a big financial success for Universal Pictures. Speaking in terms of worldwide box office, each Purge film has grossed more than the last, with the previous four films combining for nearly 500 million...modest, but respectable given that this was not existing intellectual-property when it first was released.
The first film introduced us to the concept of the Purge and dealt with a family and their home security system, as they tried to outlast the 12 hour killing spree. The second chapter, "The Purge: Anarchy" expanded our understanding of the Purge as we got to see how it played out throughout LA. "The Purge: Election Year" took things to an even broader level, focusing on a presidential candidate who was running on the idea of purging the Purge from American society. We then went back in time in part four, with "The First Purge" detailing how this immoral concept even got started.
"The Forever Purge" acts as a direct sequel to "Election Year," but quickly discards the ending of that film (which all but renders it useless looking back at the whole of the franchise). For the first time ever in the series, most of the violence, action and drama takes place AFTER a Purge, and not during. The Purge having been recently reinstated, a group of Mexican immigrants take shelter and seem to outlast the violent 12-hours. But chaos ensues even after the Purge, when things are usually back to normal. A large group of "patriots" have decided to continue the killing for as long as it takes for them to rid the country of those they feel do not belong, to return the country to its former country, or in so many words, to "make America great again."
The film focuses on a Mexican couple, Juan (Tenoch Huerta) and Adela (Ana de la Reguera), who had recently - legally - arrived in the US. Through the unexpected attacks, they are forced to work with the bigoted ranch owner (Josh Lucas), his sister (Leven Rambin) and pregnant wife (Cassidy Freeman). A Native-American (Gregory Zaragoza) helps too, as the film tries to tie together its lazy theme of "we are all in this together" and that we "all need to unite" in order to make this a better country, and world.
Most of the film involves the masked, vicious "patriots" hunting down this group as they try to race for the border. Ironically, Canada and Mexico have opened up their borders to American refugees seeking a better life due to the uprising, but they only have 6 hours to get there. Where the first film was more of a pure horror film, "The Forever Purge" is squarely more of an action movie, with car chases and gun fights galore.
"The Purge" films never really made a whole lot of sense, relying on a concept that seems sort of interesting at first, but when given any real attention reveals plenty of holes and problems. I'm not sure, for example, that if average Americans decided to take the law into their own hands, that the US Military wouldn't react in force with drone strikes and an overwhelming presence. Even local authorities seem to be missing completely. This made sense when in context of a Purge, where we are told all authorities are not involved. But why are these vagrants allowed to roam freely and without resistance?
Taking on recent political hotbed issues like immigration, the border and the polarization of our citizens seems to be a long way away from where this franchise started, but "The Forever Purge" had a great opportunity to say something relevant and meaningful. Instead, at every turn, it focuses on generic action and cheap scares, which in turn makes all of its virtue signaling seem quite artificial and thin.
And as for this being the last Purge film? As the credits begin, the first line in the song that plays is "This is not over," which tells me that if "The Forever Purge" is once again a box office success, we've likely not seen the last of this dystopian American tale.
Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi.
Run Time: 1 hour 43 minutes.
Starring: Josh Lucas, Ana de la Reguera, Tenoch Huerta, Will Patton.
Directed by Everardo Gout ("Days of Grace").
"The Forever Purge" is in theaters on Friday, July 2nd, 2021.
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