PLOT: What if people didn’t stop purging after the twelve hours were up? Well, it would turn society upside down, and chaos would rule. Welcome to The Forever Purge.
LOWDOWN: I got to give it to James DeMonaco for taking the fun and goofy concept of purging and absolutely running with it. The Forever Purge hits theater today and marks the fifth movie to date, alongside a two-season run on the USA network. With its humble beginnings in 2013 with the great Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey’s home invasion thriller, how does the Everardo Gout entry hold up after eight years strong? Let’s enjoy this summertime weather together, make yourself your favorite margarita, and join me as we dive into the beautiful mess that is The Forever Purge.
I’m not sure why we’re here after The Purge: Election Year ended the violent festivities in what seemed like a natural closing point for the series. Still, things have been re-instated by the New Founding Fathers of America, and purging is back on. This time we are out of the urban environment and relocated to the beautiful southwest. We have two leading families from different backgrounds just trying to get through the day and who we eventually follow through the deadly chaos of the night. A Texas couple Dylan Tucker (Josh Lucas), his pregnant wife Emma (Cassidy Freeman), and sister Harper (Leven Rambin), run a ranch which is where the first chunk of the movie takes place. Two of their workers T.T. (Alejandro Edda) and Juan (Tenoch Huerta), who are illegal immigrants, are trying to make a better life for themselves. They constantly get treated like sh*t, and it’s clear that most everyone in Texas is a bigot because of… reasons? Juan’s wife Adela (Ana de la Reguera) works at a local kitchen and wants to assimilate better and even encourages Juan to practice his English more. She’s the moral compass and the most likable character of the bunch.
I am not a Purge purist and would say some entries have their moments while others seem silly, but I have always respected the unapologetic blunt force that guides them. That being said, The Forever Purge is kind of a rough one to get through. These movies were never subtle with their overall message, but this goes to the level of parody real quick. Texas seems to be solely run by white supremacists, and people talk like Salon.com did blow with Vox. If The Forever Purge went full satire, I’d be more down for this goofy approach, but, nope, everything here is deadly serious. After escaping the madness of their ranch being overrun by a bloodthirsty mob, Dylan tells Juan that ” folks should stay with their own kind” in what I can only describe as a very hammy southern accent. Remember, he’s the good guy here and the one we root for alongside the immigrant family. Here’s hoping he becomes a better dude and finds love for his fellow Americans. Everyone here is so comically racist, and I get the message that The Forever Purge is trying to convey, but this is not how it’s done. When you exaggerate things to this level, I’m not feeling sympathetic as much as I’m laughing because this is an unintentionally violent version of Blazing Saddles.
Awkard dialogue aside, the action is pretty decent for a budget of 25 million, and since this takes place after the purge has ended, seeing over-the-top murder during the day is a refreshing change. The desert location gives the movie a unique vibe compared to the dark city and suburbs we’re used to seeing. Since The Forever Purge is about a coup of sorts, we get more of a road trip entry as nowhere is safe, except for the Mexican and Canadian border, where they offer a safe haven for anyone who can make it in time. Everardo Gout had a visual flair that works for the series, and though there are some spotty CGI effects, I like the style of this entry the best.
Though the story can be laughable with clunky dialogue that sounds like ’90s PSA and the overall message is executed with the precision of a cinder block, I did like the actors here. Ana de la Reguera is a great leader who already proved herself as a badass in Army Of The Dead and continues here as a sympathetic survivor who can cover her own ass. The incredible Will Paton shows up in an extended cameo as the ranch owner, while Josh Lucas is excellent as always. Casting-wise, I’m impressed that a fifth entry can get a solid level of talent, which goes a long way in making some of the more hilarious parts digestible. They are all believable (for the most part) at kicking ass, and since the action scenes are the best parts, I’m glad we got some worthy talent to root for.
GORE: The Forever Purge doesn’t hold back and goes all-in with the nasty kills.
BOTTOM LINE: I must grade these flicks on a curve because they are what they are and never pretended to be anything else. Did I roll my eyes more than I should have? Yes, but I can also say that the action was decent, and the setting change helped more than I thought it would. The real issue is that we’ve seen this story played out the same way fives times now, and though The Forever Purge wants to have a timely message, this series hasn’t figured out how to do it effectively. Is it my kind of movie? No, but it has its core fanbase that should at least be satisfied. Will The Forever Purge come out on top as the best entry? Not a chance in hell, but it’s something for someone. That someone just ain’t me.
THE FOREVER PURGE Lands In Theaters On July 2nd