Director: Everardo Gout
Starring: Ana de la Reguera, Tenoch Huerta, Josh Lucas, Cassidy Freeman, Leven Rambin, Alejandro Edda, and Will Patton
With four films and two seasons of its television series already to its name, The Purge is seemingly never-ending and that’s certainly the case with the latest instalment and fifth film, The Forever Purge.
Written by series creator James DeMonaco and directed by Everardo Gout this new sequel has been labelled as the final film in the franchise and it serves as a direct continuation of The Purge: Election Year from 2016.
Set in the year 2048, eight years after Charlene Roan was elected President and put an end to the Purge the NFFA (New Founding Fathers of America) have been reelected and have reinstated the Purge.
The film follows migrant couple Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and Juan (Tenoch Huerta) after they illegally cross the border from Mexico into the US and attempt to survive their very first Purge.
The film’s other main protagonist is Dylan, (Josh Lucas) the owner of a family-run ranch in Texas where Juan also works.
After successfully making it through their first Purge, Adela and Juan, alongside Dylan and his family, must make a dash for the Mexican border as individuals and groups refuse to stop purging.
These purgers are supporting the idea of an “Ever After Purge”, with the aim of restoring the purity of the US by killing anyone they consider non-American.
The Forever Purge has A Shaky Start
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Having waited around five years, with prequel The First Purge to tide us over, to see the fallout from the biggest plot development in the series’ history after Roan got rid of the Purge, it feels like a real shame that this is effectively ignored here.
Instead of exploring this unique moment in the overall Purge narrative, it’s skipped over without a moment’s thought.
Fast-forwarding eight years and using the opening credits to fill in the narrative gaps is incredibly lazy writing and makes the events of Election Year feel like a waste of time.
So as the characters prepare for Purge night it feels just like any other film in the series and this initially makes for a very disappointing beginning.
However, as the main plot develops and with participants purging beyond the allotted twelve hours it does offer a more unique element narratively than some of the previous films.
There is a strong focus on racism and immigration in this entry and this is achieved by moving the location of the film to a more southerly state, in this instance Texas.
By doing this the film uses the border as a narrative device in furthering the plot but also adds to the social commentary regarding the migration of people from Mexico into the US.
These themes are also addressed through certain characters and the actions of some of the forever purgers.
This change in location definitely facilitates this more focused, whilst admittedly unsubtle thematic approach but it’s also beneficial for the sake of versatility, showcasing a different kind of setting that the series hasn’t seen so far, very much giving this entry its own distinctive identity.
One distinctive element of the series as a whole though has been the diversity in characters and casting that’s been seen over the years.
This continues in The Forever Purge with Adela and Juan, two of the best protagonists it’s ever had, and audiences will find it so easy to root for them.
In previous instalments, a number of the main characters haven’t been particularly likeable and this resulted in somewhat of an indifference to them as well as a potential loss of attention or interest in the film as a whole – thanks to Adela and Juan, this isn’t the case here.
Their powerful back story and the effective performances from de la Reguera and Huerta ensure that audiences stay invested in the story with the hope that they will succeed, giving more emotional weight to this film than any other in the series to date.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Lucas’ character, Dylan.
Obviously intended to tie in with the themes of the film Dylan’s racist opinions are quickly realised and establishes his character unfavourably with the audience.
This is a peculiar decision as whilst the filmmakers are clearly opting for a redemptive storyline it’s not quite as effective as they would have hoped for, and unlike with Adela and Juan it’s often hard to get behind him in the same way.
This makes it challenging for audiences when he’s got such an integral part to play and whilst development is shown, it’s not satisfying and it never furthers the story or enhances the commentary of the film.
So unfortunately this character somewhat taints the film, although one thing it does demonstrate is just how forgiving Adela and Juan are and maybe that says something about the migrant community worthwhile enough to excuse it.
Is The Forever Purge an Action or Horror movie?
Whilst the series has very much demonstrated real-life horrors such as racism and political corruption in its films, in a more cinematic sense it has ventured between the horror and action genres without settling for just one, and The Forever Purge is no different.
The beginning definitely has more horror elements to it, there’s a creative and creepy variety of masks, a longstanding trademark of the series and some fresh and freaky violence demonstrated by those participating purgers.
After this more sinister start, it then leans more heavily into its action elements delivering high octane shoot outs and chase sequences which keep the pace of the film moving along nicely.
Audiences should be familiar with this combination of horror and action by now and as long as they know to expect this balance rather than one more so than the other they shouldn’t be disappointed, ultimately The Forever Purge offers a good mixture and is quite reflective of the style of the series as a whole.
Forever is Over…Or is It?
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So despite a disappointing start that squanders a really interesting setup provided by the previous films, The Forever Purge quickly redeems itself with its unique concept and by shining its spotlight on its likeable leads.
Some questionable character writing aside this is another solid instalment in a series that has had quite a consistent level of quality throughout.
By now audiences will know whether or not this is a series for them, and The Forever Purge manages to continue to deliver for those who do enjoy it but it’s unlikely to convert any of its critics.
It successfully tells its story against the backdrop of this high concept dystopian world by offering something fresh for viewers whilst still providing what fans have enjoyed in the past.
With this in mind, it’s also nothing groundbreaking though and audiences won’t be talking about it for very long, never mind forever.
Nonetheless, Gout has delivered a good film that taps into multiple genres and delivers on its premise, cleverly leaving the Purge universe wide open for future chapters.
What do you make of this review?
Are you going to be watching The Forever Purge in cinemas?
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