Review: ‘The Forever Purge’

The Forever Purge
A scene from Universal Pictures’ ‘The Forever Purge’

A second Civil War led by racist vigilantes and organized militias intent on “purifying” America propels the action in the fifth – and possibly final – film of The Purge franchise, The Forever Purge. The story reflects the current state of America, a nation where white supremacists have been emboldened and no longer feel it’s necessary to hide their disgusting beliefs.

The America depicted in the film is, minus an actual Purge day, a chilling reflection of the America that exists in 2021. Racist rhetoric spews from not just formerly closeted bigots but from talking heads on so-called news channels whose lies add fuel to the fire. And in The Forever Purge, a nation ripped apart by those lies finds well-armed militias focusing their anger on immigrants and anyone whose skin tone isn’t pearly white.

The previous Purge films disclosed the true purpose of the annual night of mayhem and murder is to wipe out the poor and people of color. It’s a government-approved cleansing method in which white supremacists and mercenaries are given the green light to act on their basest instincts by slaughtering anyone considered “other.”

The fifth film picks up with The New Founding Fathers party back in power and reinstating the annual Purge. Unlike the previous films, the actual night of murder and mayhem isn’t the focus of The Forever Purge. The twist in this installment is the official conclusion of the approved Purge is really just the beginning of the end of America as a functioning democracy.

At the center of the action are undocumented immigrants Adela (Ana de la Reguera, Army of the Dead) and her husband, Juan (Tenoch Huerta, Narcos: Mexico), who’ve crossed the border into Texas and are gainfully employed. Adela works in a butcher shop while Juan is a ranch hand/horse whisperer on the Tucker family’s ranch. Tucker family patriarch Caleb (Will Patton, Halloween) is a decent man who respects his employees. The same can’t be said of his son, Dylan (Josh Lucas, Ford v Ferrari). Dylan’s jealous of Juan’s ability to handle horses and Juan initially takes him to be a spoiled, racist jerk.

Dylan’s pregnant wife (Cassidy Freeman, The Righteous Gemstones) and his sister (Leven Rambin, The Big Ugly) round out the family who on the day after the Purge are captured by masked killers. One family member is murdered before Juan and fellow ranch hand (Alejandro Edda, Narcos: Mexico) can rescue the family and escape in a semi-truck.

Adela, who it turns out is a badass with a history of taking on cartels, joins the group as they attempt to flee El Paso which, like other major American cities, has fallen to the vigilantes. Given that the annual Purge is strictly an American holiday, our country’s neighbors – Mexico and Canada – step in to help provide safe harbor to any unarmed American who can make it across the border during a specific time frame.

Mirroring reality, The Forever Purge takes place in an America in which white supremacists feel empowered to take matters into their own hands. Fortunately, there’s only a very remote possibility of these gun-toting nuts igniting a second Civil War in the real world. That said, it’s disturbing to search for the fifth Purge film on Google and find the top search strings involve the possibility of a real-life Purge. It’s also disturbing The Forever Purge so accurately reflects the hatred and bloodlust of armed racists who believe only white is right in America.

Screenwriter James DeMonaco isn’t in the least bit subtle with the film’s message. DeMonaco wrote all five of The Purge films (and directed three) and has used the franchise to confront important issues. With The Forever Purge, DeMonaco has taken the gloves off. This is a brutal, unflinching condemnation of racism told without any filters.

The Forever Purge isn’t a film you can watch for the action while ignoring the social commentary. As such, it’s going to offend and upset a large faction of Americans who will identify with the aggressors. (Those same people should have gotten a clue and checked out after The Purge 2.) This fifth Purge film is even more political than its predecessors and shows an America that’s taken its eye off the ball and has lost its way. It’s a powerful cautionary tale, albeit one taken to the absolute extremes.

A solid cast and intense action sequences, combined with DeMonaco’s takedown of white supremacists, make this fast-paced entry in The Purge franchise one of its best.

GRADE: B+

Directed By: Everardo Gout

Running Time: 1 hour 43 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for strong, bloody violence and language throughout

Release Date: July 2, 2021