'The Forever Purge' Doesn't Quite Live Up to the Franchise's Unrealized Potential Directed by Everardo Gout

Starring Ana de la Reguera, Tenoch Huerta, Josh Lucas, Cassidy Freeman, Leven Rambin
'The Forever Purge' Doesn't Quite Live Up to the Franchise's Unrealized Potential Directed by Everardo Gout
Is there a film franchise with more promise and less payoff than The Purge? The concept of a one-night free-for-all where everything is legal is a fantastic elevator pitch, especially considering how the films have accurately captured the angry, divisive tone of modern America. Much like The Bucket List, these films have been generally dismissed by critics and yet have still managed to embed their ideas into the collective consciousness.

The Forever Purge is the fifth film in the series, and it's an anarchistic twist on the now-familiar concept. Following the annual Purge, when all crimes including murder are legal, a group of immigration-hating white Americans claiming to true patriots — clearly representing the torch-toting white supremacists of Trump's America — decide to enact an "Ever After Purge" that never ends. It's the furthest possible extension of U.S. libertarianism.

This plays out against an immigration story, in which Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and husband Juan (Tenoch Huerta) escape across the border from Mexico to the U.S. — and, in the film's cleverest twist, must then escape back once anarchists attack El Paso.

It's a bold-faced racism allegory that nobly attempts to dispel American arrogance but doesn't always hit home. In particular, the depiction of so-called "rednecks" as a bunch of immigrant-hating zealots has a whiff of classicism. The Forever Purge is a deeply cynical film that, even in its message of anti-racism, is harsh and angry. It's even more on-the-nose than 2018's The First Purge.

Like last year's The Hunt, this film tackles complex social issues without a trace of subtly, but it's a decently exciting film about social breakdown that will resonate in some uncomfortable ways. There still hasn't been a great Purge film that lives up the franchise's potential, but this will do fine for now. (Universal)