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Review: The Forever Purge (2021)

The Forever Purge (2021)

Directed by: Everardo Gout

Premise: The fifth film in The Purge series. The morning after the annual Purge, in which all crime including murder is legal, a group of purgers ignore the end of the holiday and continue killing, with the goal of politically and ethnically cleansing the United States.

What Works: The Forever Purge does precisely what a sequel should; it escalates the stakes and expands the core concept, bringing everything to the next level. As commercial entertainment, The Purge films offer violent set pieces. This is what draws the audience in as it does with most action cinema. The Forever Purge is one of the best directed entries in this series. It has some of the best action set pieces and filmmaker Everardo Gout has an eye for staging the violence. But The Forever Purge also has some of the most interesting characters of the series.They have complicated relationships and are allowed some nuance. The film also revises the provocative central conceit of The Purge. The violence of previous films was contained to a twelve-hour period and the characters had to make it through the night from one siren to the next. In The Forever Purge, the rules are broken and purgers keep on killing after the event has formally ended. This creates an all-bets-are-off scenario that is more freewheeling than the previous movies. The new film relocates the action to rural America. The original film took place in suburbia with a mostly white cast and the sequels were set in urban areas with progressively more diverse characters culminating with The First Purge having a predominantly black cast. The Forever Purge is essentially a western and it includes Hispanic and indigenous characters while also working immigration issues into the story. The Purge films always had a political dimension. In the first couple of films the politics were implicit but the politics of the last three films were much more upfront. The Forever Purge is a relevant and disturbing reflection of American anxieties that is in tune with this cultural moment.

What Doesn’t: Within the scheme of this series, the premise of The Forever Purge feels like it’s missing a significant piece of the story. The third film, 2016’s Election Year, was about growing resistance to the annual murder holiday and the resolution of that film hinted that change was coming while the fourth Purge film was a prequel that explained the origins of the tradition. The opening of The Forever Purge indicates that Purge-friendly politicians have returned to power. This rewrite negates the importance of what happened in Election Year and warrants a story of its own.  

Bottom Line: The Forever Purge is among the better films in this series. Its political commentary is as relevant and provocative as ever but the film also has more interesting characters and better action scenes than the other entries.

Episode: #860 (July 18, 2021)