The Forever Purge Synopsis: 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. A recently immigrated couple, Juan (Tenoch Huerta) and Adela (Ana de la Reguera), now must travel back across the Mexican border before the country is consumed by a “forever purge”.
From the humble beginnings of high-concept/low-budget horror, few could have guessed that 2013’s The Purge would act as the igniting point to a blockbuster franchise. Each sequel continues to push the envelope in terms of scale and zeitgeist ideas, as series figurehead James DeMonaco boldly evolves his initial premise into our challenging times.
If only the films’ execution were up to the task of DeMonaco’s idealism (the only halfway decent sequel was the spirited The First Purge). I’ve largely felt disconnected from the series’ brand of airless thrills, always putting a precedent on posturing sensationalism rather than saying anything of note. Fittingly enough, the series final entry, The Forever Purge, sinks to the lowest levels yet.
I can’t fault DeMonaco and director Everardo Gout for trying here. Their portrait of jaded extremists releasing prejudicial beliefs rings with harrowing relevance at times (this was filmed long before the terrorist attack at the Capitol). DeMonaco’s script endearingly embraces hot-button issues, while Gout imbues a thoughtful touch within the protagonists’ character-driven moments. The first 15-20 minutes strikes surprisingly composed marks for the franchise, sincerely delving into immigrant struggles despite sifting through some hokey writing.
Everything goes downhill from there. In an instance, the intriguing politics and sensitive character beats are brushed aside for a chaotic array of flat setpieces. I respect that Gout tries to incorporate guerilla realism during the close-knit setpieces, but an endless onslaught of bullets and mayhem only creates a dulling effect. The pacing rarely breaks for meaningful developments. Instead, the inconsistently filmed action takes centerstage (Gout relies too much on shaky-cam despite a few well-orchestrated setpieces), ultimately morphing worthwhile concepts into an empty parade of blood-soaked carnage. Audiences should be disturbed by the heinous acts, yet the textureless delivery only inspires mere ambivalence.
The Forever Purge represents the series overarching weakness: the writing is never up to the task. DeMonaco continues to reduce vital conceits into a medley of poorly conceived contrivances. All of the characters are empty action figures only serving to battle through the hellscape (a forced racist redemption arc feels painfully dated), while DeMonaco’s political insights continue to trivialize vital issues. Aspects like the Candian/Mexico border opening up and America’s violent self-destruction are handled like ironic punchlines. It’s a shame that DeMonaco reduces our challenging times into mere window dressing during his oppressively empty exercise in brutality.
I respect the Purge’s confrontational edge, but The Forever Purge only works to display the franchise’s glaring expiration date.