THE FOREVER PURGE ½
2021, R, 103 mins.
Ana de la Reguera as Adela / Tenoch Huerta as Juan / Josh Lucas as Dylan Tucker / Cassidy Freeman as Emma Kate / Will Patton as Caleb Tucker / Susie Abromeit as Mrs. Hardin / Anthony Molinari as Merc /
Directed by Everardo Gout / Written by James DeMonaco
THE FOREVER PURGE is the fifth film in THE PURGE Cinematic Universe (if one could call it that) and a direct sequel to 2016's insanely enjoyable THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR, which I thought was the series' ludicrous high point on a level of pure retrograde trashiness.
You may remember that in ELECTION YEAR a new political party beat the New Founding Fathers of America and pledged to end the annual Purge in America...indefinitely. THE FOREVER PURGE does away with that plot development within minutes of its opening sections and shows new New Founding Fathers taking a stranglehold of the country again and, yes, reinstating The Purge.
But now - wait
for it! - some pockets of the NFFA want The Purge to go on...forever...in
order to exterminate every minority that's considered impure to the white
These movies are
about as subtle as a baseball bat shot to the old babymakers.
Even when you go back to the James DeMonaco created franchise
starter from 2013, what began as a modestly scaled, but intriguing
high concept home invasion thriller cross morphed with futuristic
dystopian sci-fi horror evolved into lurid grindhouse sensationalism that
was THE PURGE: ANARCHY and the
aforementioned ELECTION YEAR. All
of THE PURGE films have methodically hammered home their social/political
themes of the hyper aggressiveness of American society gone totally postal
with anything but thoughtful restraint, but as tasty meat and potatoes
exploitation cinema goes I've placed myself in the minority position of
being an enthusiastic apologist. THE
FOREVER PURGE should be a sequel on critical life support (as most fifth
entries in a series usually are), but I'll give DeMonaco credit for
twisting his anarchist premise enough here to make this outing initially
compelling (which I'll get into soon) and have a different vibe than what
has come before (that's what good sequels should do).
But obvious franchise fatigue is settling in here, and creative
exhaustion is beginning to squeeze through the cracks.
For those that
have been living under a rock and need a brief explainer of all things
PURGE, the franchise is cemented in a twisted premise: In the near future
a vile white nationalist party has taken over the U.S. and has reduced all
crime significantly via a yearly government sanction holiday - occurring
for twelve hours at the same time every year - during which time all crime
is legal. The only limit is a
citizen's macabre imagination. The
NFFA rationale is that allowing Americans to "purge" will
cleanse themselves for the better (granted, one thing that this series has
never fully explained is how the utterly insane Purgers are able to
instantly go back to any semblance of a sane life after their barbarism
for one night). As mentioned
earlier, in ELECTION YEAR this despotic party was ousted, leaving an aura
of hope (and a sense of closure) for this series, but now the NFFA have
reclaimed America and the Purge is reborn again.
THE FOREVER PURGE changes its geographical focus to Texas and
introduces us to Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and Juan (Tenoch Huerta), a
couple of illegal Mexicans that have secretly crossed into America in
hopes of a better life.
Are their lives
safe in the fascist minority hating state sponsored killing that typifies
Do Purgers like
and Juan manage to find jobs in a small Texas town, with Juan becoming a
loyal and hardworking ranch hand for his tough talking and no-nonsense
boss, Dylan (Josh Lucas), who's a casual racist (he values and respects
his workers, but feels that whites and non-whites are best left living
apart). Tensions really start
to come to the forefront when the annual Purge commences, with Adela and
Juan finding safety outside of the ranch, whereas Dylan secludes himself
in his well fortified home with pregnant wife Emma (Cassidy Freeman) and
his dad, Caleb (holy hell, Will Patton!).
Now, normally a PURGE movie would revel in the nocturnal carnage
and the killing/survival instincts of all the players in question, but THE
FOREVER PURGE kind of treats it as an afterthought.
The night ends, people go back to their lives, and everything seems
to revert back to normal.
End of movie...right?
Things go south
(geographical pun intended) when a malicious new group dubbed the Ever
After Purge makes their presence felt post-regular Purge and wish to exert
their violent wills to enact - GASP! - a forever Purge that will - DOUBLE
GASP!!! - go 24/7 and will lead to anyone that's not Caucasian being
rounded up and exterminated. Predictably,
martial law is declared in the absolute shit show that has become America,
and during it countries like Mexico and - YAY! - Canada offer safe
refuge for anyone that wishes to escape the U.S....but only for a finite
period of time. Realizing
that the clock is ticking, Juan and Adela find themselves teaming up with
- yup - Dylan and his posse as they desperately race towards the border
and their hopeful freedom from this newfound tyranny.
And they have to do so why under the constant bombardment of the
new ultra racist/red necked Purgers that want all illegals dead and
PURGE sequel this late in the game desperately needs some fine retuning
and new direction, and DeMonaco (returning as screenwriter, but not
director) tries as he can to infuse some newfangled energy into the
proceedings. Right wing
extremists and supremacists have always been the default villains of these
films (that was never going to change), but something had to give with the
central Purge idea itself, and having militia groups wanting to enact a
Forever Purge does - at first - give this film a renewed class warfare
story trajectory. I think
that DeMonaco is trying to fan the flames of his story's fire with the
very recent Capital riots that gripped America, which makes some of the
imagery contained within THE FOREVER PURGE have an immediate haunting
potency. Beyond that, this sequel mostly takes things outside and
during the daytime post-Purge, which gives the film an aesthetic makeover.
Western genre influences also add fresh flavoring to the cause as
well, and the overall race to the border narrative for the ragtag band of
heroes desperately defending themselves from waves upon waves of white
grievance spitting psychopaths is never dull.
directorial blood at the reigns of this sequel too, with Mexican-American
filmmaker Everardo Valerio Gout filling in for DeMonaco, and for the most
part he makes a lean, mean, and tightly edited action picture that plays
up to series strengths. THE PURGE films want to be on solid and thoughtful thematic
ground as eerie parallels to contemporary American societal
ills...but...who are we kidding ourselves...these movies ironically wallow
in their gratuitous extremes and ridiculous violence.
That's not to say that THE FOREVER PURGE is not without its well
oiled moments of mayhem. There's
a sensationally engineered one-shot sequence showing Dylan and company
making their way through Forever Purge-ified city streets (it's all pretty
thanklessly well done), not to mention an unendingly creepy moment in a
police van when all of the heroes find themselves chained up alongside a
Neo-Nazi Purger prisoner that listens to the maelstrom of fired bullets
and bomb explosions outside and treats them like a symphony of beautiful
music (he's able to nail gunfire down to the specific weapon:
"Homegrown music from the heartland," he bellows. "That's
American music!"). There are
ample moments of chilling unease like this littered all through THE
I also appreciate
that these films have always earned their hard R rating (in an era when
too many films that should be adult oriented aim for a more audience
friendly PG-13, THE FOREVER PURGE and its predecessors deserve some props
for embracing their low brow anxiety and rage inducing eccentricities).
And unlike the previous installments, this PURGE sequel seems to be
a direct attack and reaction to Trumpian America and how that presidency
paved the way for nasty civil unrest in the nation (watching the old PURGE
films now and in hindsight, they were sinisterly prophetic in more ways
than one). Still, the
commentary this go around seems even more simplistically preachy and
hilariously on-the-nose (if that's possible) than what's come before, and
what this film is trying to say about systemic racism left horribly
unchecked doesn't really say anything different than the last several
films haven't already. Added
to that is the painfully predictable story beats, especially the one
involving Lucas' bigot who learns about tolerance when he has to team up
and survive with his minority workers.
You can see where this film is headed from the very beginning.