“The Purge is over!!! It’s done!!!”
“This is the Forever Purge! It’s never going to end.”
That’s a direct quote from dialogue 30 minutes into “The Forever Purge,” thefifth entry in the horror/thriller franchise. But it’s also how I feel about these movies now.
What was once entertaining and (at times) clever has now become tiresome and repetitive.
Basically, this movie franchise is an old bottle of hand soap. They’ve squeezed last bit out and then watered it down and shook it up and used it again. Now they’ve added so much water that there are no soap molecules left.
Quick catchup before I explain this film’s plot. The entire concept of these movies is that America has been ravaged by crime and poverty and so an ultra-rich political party takes power and implements one night a year in which all crime, including murder is legal. It’s sold as a way to reduce crime nationwide and “cleanse our souls” but it’s just a way to kill off poor people. With each sequel, the political message becomes less and less subtle, culminating in an election in which an anti-Purge candidate wins and eliminates the barbaric practice.
In the latest entry, Purge proponents have been voted back into office after illegal immigrants fill the United States. The one-night killing spree has been legally reinstated again and nothing seems to have changed.
The movie takes place in Texas near the Mexico border and focuses an unlikely partnership between Mexican-Americans (played by Ana de la Reguera and Tenoch Huerta) and a wealthy, racist man (played by Josh Lucas) who distrusts hispanics but doesn’t support the idea of a Purge. (You can already guess that his racist viewpoints are changed through their experience together…)
After Purge night ends these people find themselves the next day face-to-face with a new cult-like group that’s been causing attacks on brown-skinned people, promising to “make America pure again.” They call themselves the “Ever After Purgers” and they don’t care if the government is sanctioning their actions. They’re filled with swastika-wearing white supremacists and unofficial U.S. border guardians.
Violence in the U.S. gets so bad that Mexico and Canada agree to open their borders for six hours only and our protagonists flee south, trying to avoid murderous bikers wielding machine guns.
It sound fun or insightful to analyze the political message in “The Forever Purge” and compare it today’s current events, but there are two problems. For one: the movie is about as subtle as… well… murderous bikers wielding machine guns. Secondly, the political concepts have been repeated again and again in now five movies and a spinoff TV series. They’ve said what they had to say and they’ve said it again.
This is like your loquacious uncle who wants to tell you his opinion on the president every time you see him. It’s not that his point is incorrect. But he’s told you again and again. You’ve heard it before.
I don’t disagree with the message about racism leading to violence nowadays, but I wish the movie would explore this theme in a more interesting, creative and subtle way.
While this entry focuses more on the immigrant experience and xenophobia rather than the struggles in black communities, this movie borrows the same phrases and lines from the previous films. It’s almost as if they just copy and pasted from the other screenplays and then just changed the word “black” to “Mexican.” Click find and replace.
“The Forever Purge” seems more worried about hammering this political message home than making an entertaining movie. It takes 30 minutes before any scene of action takes place and then another 15 minutes before it really kicks into gear. It’s only an hour and forty minutes long.
When the action does take place it’s serviceable but nothing special. It’s a lot of gun violence and it’s fast paced. It’s a long cry from the creepy masked WASPs knocking on the door in the first installment. The tension is pretty much gone and none of the protagonists are as good as Frank Grillo was in parts two and three.
One positive thing is they do mix up the setting a bit. The first movie focused on the suburbs and the next three moved to urban settings. Now we’re looking at rural. It’s got Western vibes with a dash of “Mad Max” thrown in. It was wise to mix it up.
If you really, really love this franchise you might be able to stomach this one but I think most would agree that it’s the weakest in the series.
My guess is casual fans would be better off barricading themselves in their homes than venturing out to catch “The Forever Purge” in theaters.