The Forever Purge, 2021.
Directed by Everardo Gout.
Starring Josh Lucas, Ana de la Reguera, Tenoch Huerta, Will Patton, Leven Rambin, Cassidy Freeman, Susie Abromeit, Anthony Molinari, Sammi Rotibi, Gregory Zaragoza, and Will Brittain.
All the rules are broken as a sect of lawless marauders decides that the annual Purge does not stop at daybreak and instead should never end.
The Purge started as a series with an intriguing concept that sputtered out so fast I, honest to God, can’t even tell you how many there are, something I’m usually pretty good at doing from memory. It’s not so much that they are the same movie every time, but that they also look and feel similar while swapping in different character types (politicians in Election Year, for example) for some of the most hammered home social commentary imaginable that’s typically afraid to actually say anything substantial considering this is the kind of franchise that wants to remain as accessible to as many moviegoers as possible. So one of the only complements there is to give The Forever Purge (directed by Everardo Gout) is the Texas ranch setting that offers up refreshing locales for the breakneck action that nonstop takes up the proceedings once it’s time to purge.
The key problem lies with regular series writer James DeMonaco, who spends a good 40 minutes introducing caricatures and real-world talking points with the bluntness of a sledgehammer rather than characters that resemble real people navigating those parallels inside fictionalized lawful murder. Adela and Juan (Ana de la Reguera and Tenoch Huerta, with the former having an impressive action showcase) play a couple that has fled to Texas (it’s more than just seeking a better life) working for the Tucker family. Of the two, Adela is more willing to believe in the American dream, often seen studying and practicing English through audio lessons in between working a mundane cooking job. In contrast, Juan is rightfully more cynical as he endures thinly veiled racism while working for the ranchers.
There are also scenes with the Tucker family exploring the varying levels of their murky beliefs. The patriarch (played by Will Patton) is the most sensible of the bunch and treats Juan with the most dignity. The writing tries to cover up son Dylan’s (Josh Lucas) racism with a subplot of jealousy that Juan is a superior rancher and pressing his father more, but mostly just comes across as a copout for these families to get along once it becomes clear that they have to work together to survive against even bigger shithead white supremacists. Elsewhere, on the media is a Native American fellow (Gregory Zaragoza) attempting to explain that the annual purge is not a solution to anything.
It turns out 24 hours is not enough for some of these bloodthirsty nutjobs, continuing to commence with the killing well into the morning (Adela finds herself walking into a trap that’s more in line with a Saw movie). These individuals (usually sporting Nazi iconography on their faces and rambling off their uncomfortable knowledge of firearms) are practically the cinematic embodiment of the January 6th “protesters,” looking to take back a country simply because they don’t like inclusivity liberal politics. Given that The Forever Purge was conceived well before the previous US election, it’s a slightly prophetic reaction that somewhat feels grounded in reality and worth applauding, even if, again, there are no real characters to speak of here. Then again, I’m not even sure some of the people on that side of the political spectrum are capable of rational thinking, so maybe it’s art imitating life.
Regardless, the working-class white ranchers and their Mexican servant’s family band together for what feels like an eternity of shootouts and car chases that are shot in visually appealing deserts while they are filled with an overabundance of editing rather than the usual citywide anarchy. Additional clichés include everything from pregnant wives to awful and forced conversations about racism and even a one-liner here and there (Juan gets a pretty memorable one during the climax). Characters split up and/or lose one another, working through their cultural differences (and finally acknowledging similarities) to regroup and persevere.
If the messages had a small semblance of subtlety, The Forever Purge might have been on the right track to something decent (the goal for everyone towards the finale is a clever idea that is somewhat wasted). The violence and brutality are exciting in the moment, but as always, this is another entry in the series to purge from the brain right when the credits roll.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com