The Forever Purge Review: Like War, Purging Never Truly Ends
The Purge film series–or Purge Cinematic Universe, if you will–began with an admittedly rather flimsy premise. What if crime were legal for like, one night, dude? From there, though, Purge mastermind James DeMonaco has taken that premise and built a whole franchise on top of it. He’s used it, for example, to examine the United States and reflect it, in ways that are often a little too prescient and always uncomfortable. So in our review of The Forever Purge, we’ll take a vibe check of America as it is now (in the Purge).
But Hey, I Thought They Abolished The Purge
Real Purge-heads know that this is the fifth movie in The Purge series. (There were also two seasons of The Purge TV series on USA, by the way. Due to their limited focus, though, I consider them more minor canon.) The first three movies in the series were chronological, finishing with The Purge: Election Year, in which, yes, they ended The Purge.
The First Purge, image via Universal Pictures
The fourth movie in the series broke from the chronological story. And despite being the fourth movie, it’s called The First Purge, just to make talking about it extra-confusing. But anyway, they gave it that title because it depicts–you guessed it–the first Purge. The government, run by the fascist weirdos of the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) party, ran the first Purge as an experiment. I won’t give away the spoilery details, but I will say that the film explains the actual purpose of the Purge.
Anyway, after that brief hiccup, we’re now back on the chronological train. This film, The Forever Purge, follows behind Election Year. After the triumph of the previous film, it’s all over, baby. The creeps of the NFFA have clawed their way back into power. And with their return comes the return of the Purge.
In case you missed my post on the Forever Purge trailer, here’s what you should know about the movie. This time, we meet at the intersection of two families in Texas. One family is the Tuckers, a group of well-off ranchers. There’s the patriarch Caleb (Will Patton), daughter Harper (Leven Rambin), son Dylan (Josh Lucas) and his wife, Cassidy (Cassidy Freeman). The other family is a couple, Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and Juan (Tenoch Huerta), whose crossing from Mexico we follow at the beginning of the movie. Juan, incidentally, works at the Tucker ranch, while Adela is a supervisor in a meatpacking plant.
Life for both families chugs along as normally as either could expect. That is, until the culmination of this year’s Purge. That’s when we find out that not everyone wants it to be an annual event. And they don’t want it abolished, either. Instead, a new group, even more radical than the NFFA, wants the Purge to be an everyday activity. Uh, no, thank you.
The Forever Purge Review
image via Universal Pictures
It’s extremely hard for me to judge Purge movies in a normal situation, because I effin’ love The Purge. Don’t get me wrong–I don’t love the idea of murdering people. If The Purge were real, then you can catch me committing financial crimes all night while surrounded by like, 20 dogs I stole. (ALL crimes are legal.) Rather, I love the idea of it, the novelty, and the ways in which DeMonaco has, as I said, used it to hold up a mirror to society. (We live in one!) I thought The First Purge, for instance, was particularly brilliant, from its reveal of The Purge’s true meaning to that gut-punch of an ending.
And now that the story has (FINALLY) introduced Indigenous characters, I almost floated out of the theater. As Zahn McClarnon’s activist character first appeared and then later became basically the (spoiler) of the movie, I was elated. I turned to my sister and whispered, “I might levitate.” But that’s the cherry on top. While I’m sad that the Purge is leaving me–don’t leave me–The Forever Purge delivered what I expect from a Purge property: a blunt political message mixed with a hefty dose of ultraviolence. However, this isn’t a perfect film, by any measure. For one thing, there’s some loose threads that are left dangling. (Or in my sister’s words, “Did that one girl with the makeup die?” She just basically disappeared from the story.)
And the blunt political message could be a lot sharper, especially after the year we’ve all had. But ultimately, if you’re looking for the emotional validation that a Purge movie can provide, then my one-sentence review of The Forever Purge is that it’s an adequate ending. I still want more, but this will do. For now.
The Forever Purge is now in theaters.
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featured image via Universal Pictures
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.