The final entry in the Purge franchise slowly slips into a trope-induced coma, and we need to let it go.
This review of The Forever Purge is spoiler-free.
Held back due to the pandemic, The Forever Purge has finally been released. This entry seems set to be the final instalment of the franchise, and a first viewing of the film certainly seems to point in that general direction, although there is talk of a sixth entry. My advice to them is to just stop, and let this be the end of it all.
We follow the story of Juan and Adela, working on a Texas farm after escaping from a drug cartel in Mexico. Tensions run quite high on the ranch, with Juan being a better horse whisperer than Dylan, the son of the ranch owner.
The night of The Purge is nearly upon the US again, with the NFFA bringing the event back into play, and a right-wing faction of this dystopian future state, the PPF (Purge Purification Force), seems intent on breaking the rules of this particularly nasty game.
When Juan and Adela see the night through in a safe house that is protected by armed security over the course of the evening, they return to their workplaces to find that the PPF has declared no end to The Purge, and the usual violence and madness ensues. The ranch owners have been invaded and captured and Juan and Adela, well versed in fighting against drug cartels, have to rescue the family.
From there, it’s a series of captures and escapes, as our cast tries to make it across the border to Mexico. The US is on fire as the PPF wreak havoc across every state. Canada and Mexico offer refuge for those that can make it, but the borders are only open for a few hours. Can our conflicted cast survive the trip and escape? Well I will try and keep this review of The Forever Purge as spoiler-free as possible, just in case you want to sit through the film.
You can see that things have escalated quite dramatically in this supposedly final Purge movie, as the original writer of the film, James DeMonaco, returns to the writing chores. It is essentially a season finale with the upscaling of the stakes, and the film tries its best to convey a rising tide of chaos right across the country. However, the budget restrains the idea, and it’s hard to show the extent of the devastation on the budget granted to this production. There are moments when they try some more panoramic wide shots, but it all feels a little bit like a video game or TV show.
The action sequences are all quite dark, and the editing was choppy and bitty; I prefer clearer set pieces with less aggressive cuts, and there is nothing much to see here that is either new or original.
The creepy masks and make-up of the Purgers are also quite diluted here, as the production seems more focussed on creating a bigger more action-based flick, so the horror and dread of the earlier Purge films give way to a more sci-fi-action type of adventure.
Character-wise, there is an arc of sorts for the cast, and there are thumpingly unsubtle political references rammed into the script to make sure we all know who the good guys and the bad guys are, but it comes across as preachy and hollow, with no real attempts at creating grey areas or layers. It’s all pretty much good guys and bad guys and not much in between. Perhaps it’s a bit much to hope for nuances in the script of a Purge movie, but surely in a film that chooses to highlight these issues so obviously, there should be some attempt to grant your audience some level of intelligence.
By the end of the third act, everything plays out pretty much the way you would expect it to. There are no great surprises, no twists, and the film ends on a note of finality, in line with the idea of this being the last Purge movie, however, box office wise the film has performed well, so you can bet your bottom dollar that they are already thinking about a sixth installment.
This was literally just what you would expect it to be, and some of the horror elements of earlier entries has been lost, turning this franchise into the closest thing you will get to those Italian produced Mad Max knock offs from the 80’s. If you are a fan you will enjoy this, if you have wandered in looking for something to watch after lockdown easing, you might find this all a bit too much.