Full disclosure: I really don’t like this franchise. The Purge and its sequels all have an incredibly fertile idea at its core. However, not a one has managed to do enough with them. The Purge became just a home invasion thriller. The Purge: Anarchy is the series’ nadir, while The Purge: Election Year is only slightly better, helped out by the real-life relevance of You-Know-Who’s Presidency. A prequel in The First Purge was more of the same, so I went into The Forever Purge expecting dreck. What I got was, well…slightly better. This is still a wildly mediocre film, but it’s not exactly bad. Somehow, being so on the nose about something that we, in a way, just went through, gives it nearly a reason to exist.
The Forever Purge can’t fully right the ship, but this is as close as the franchise has come to justifying its existence. The kernel of a good idea that this series always has is there again, but this time, it almost resonates. It only took Qanon, wild Trump supporters, and an attempted insurrection to make it happen, but here we are.
We open by meeting Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and Juan (Tenoch Huerta) as they cross the Mexican border into America. A few months later, they’ve settled into a comfortable life. Following the events of The Purge: Election Year, the story picks up with the New Founding Fathers of America back in power, so that peace won’t last long. Of course, they’ve opted to reinstitute The Purge, which begins that night. On the Tucker farm, where Juan works, Caleb (Will Patton) runs a fair farm, treating everyone equal, something his son Dylan (Josh Lucas) struggles with, making for trouble with Juan. Their issues are about to need to be put aside, though. The Purge comes and goes without anything out of the ordinary, but the next morning, coordinated attacks begin. While the NFFA was out of power, supporters grew angry and paranoid, opting to decide on a “Forever Purge” that will cleanse the country of those who aren’t true Americans.
The Tuckers and their employees, now paired as equals, set out to survive. Leaving the farm to find Adela, who’s stuck in town. Quickly, it becomes clear that this is a national emergency, so much so that Canada and Mexico have opened up their borders to American refugees. So, the group fights towards the border, hoping for asylum there. Suffice it to say, this is a Purge movie, so slaughtering ensues.
The cast has some awfully on the nose dialogue to recite (go figure, a Purge flick is on the nose), but they do their best. You’re not here to see the acting, but they do all essay characters that you hope manage to live. In addition to Ana de la Reguera and Tenoch Huerta, who are our leads, along with Josh Lucas, the cast includes Alejandro Edda, Cassidy Freeman, Leven Rambin, and more.
Filmmaker James DeMonaco has relegated himself to just writing duties, so director Everardo Gout helms this one. The difference is noticeable. While DeMonaco’s crummy dialogue is still evident, Gout likes his characters and does his best to make you care. Plus, he actually stages one legitimately frightening sequence. Mostly, it’s just more of the same in The Forever Purge, but just executed a bit better than normal.
The Forever Purge isn’t going to suddenly bring in new fans of the franchise. It’s still not a good movie. But, in making this film the best of the bunch, the series is supposedly going out, and doing so on a high note. If nothing else, at least they managed to make one that wasn’t overtly awful.