The Forever Purge is the fifth, and supposedly final, instalment of the Purge franchise. What started out as a low-key home invasion horror in The Purge has turned into fast-paced action with this latest film, and unfortunately, it doesn’t quite live up to expectations.
The film follows on from the events of the third film, Election Year, in which the New Founding Fathers (NFFA) were disbanded and the annual Purge events stopped. However due to increasing tensions between Americans and foreign immigrants, the NFFA are elected back into power and the annual Purge, a 12-hour period where all crime including murder is legal, is reinstated. We meet Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and Juan (Tenoch Huerta), a Mexican couple who have illegally entered the United States to escape the Mexican cartels. 10 months after moving to Texas, Adela is working at a meatpacking plant and Juan works as a ranch hand for wealthy patriarch Caleb Tucker (Will Patton), his daughter Harper (Leven Rambin) and his intolerant son Dylan (Josh Lucas).
Adela and Juan face their first Purge, and while they sit it out with fellow immigrants in a centre guarded by paid security, the Tucker family including Dylan’s pregnant wife Cassie (Cassidy Freeman) settle down in their heavily fortified ranch. The 12 hours of the Purge passes uneventfully and Adela, Juan and the Tuckers emerge from their refuges and return to work. However, a group of vigilantes ignores the lifting of the Purge and continues to commit violence against anyone they deem isn’t a true American, promoting “ever after” and the “forever purge”.
Adela is attacked at her workplace and the Tuckers are taken hostage by a ranch hand who wants to overthrow the rich and privileged. Juan and his friend T.T. (Alejandro Edda) save the Tuckers and head out in a truck to rescue Adela, while the violence escalates across their Texan town and the entire country. The group hear on the news that both Mexico and Canada are opening their borders for the next 6 hours to allow Americans to flee the violence, so they head to El Paso to try and reach a safe haven, where they’re aided by native American tribe leader Chiago (Zahn McClarnon).
I love the whole idea behind the Purge and an America where all crime is legal for 12 hours every year is quite a fascinating concept. The original Purge as more of a horror film worked really well, especially with the assailants in rather creepy masks, and there are hints of this horror on offer here but sadly it has mostly been replaced by action. We see glimpses and clips of purgers wreaking havoc and there is a decent amount of bloody violence, but the creepy horror side is definitely lacking.
The film concentrates on the contentious issue of immigration and is obviously taking note of the current real-life events happening in the USA, right down to the border wall. I’m sure this could’ve taken the political issues a lot further than it does, but I enjoyed this realism and social commentary. This is one of the things I’ve always enjoyed about the Purge films, as you can really imagine something like this happening in real life and these views being those of real people. Sure there are a lot of clichés present, like a pregnant woman going into labour at an inopportune moment and white racist neo-Nazis to name but a few, but some of this isn’t exactly dissimilar to real life. There are also a lot of clichés here that are avoided and while it does come across as a little cheesy, having a rich, white Texan cowboy family who aren’t racist and aren’t supportive of the elitist NFFA is fairly refreshing.
This does suffer from a few creative issues. The physical violence and action are fairly decent, but the CGI, although used sparingly, is pretty dire. There are also some questionable camera shots that move into the first-person handheld that feel incredibly misplaced. The script isn’t perfect and full of cheesy lines, which means that the actors are only as good as what they’ve got to work with. Ana de la Reguera and Tenoch Huerta are the standouts here, while sadly the rest of the cast fall foul of the poor script and execution.
I enjoyed The Forever Purge a lot more than I was expecting, and will readily admit to being taken in by the tension and some silly jump scares. There’s a great idea and story here, but it suffers from some rather poor execution. But as a fairly entertainment ridiculous action film, it isn’t that bad.
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A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!