*. I don’t know what I’m more impressed by, the fact that The Forever Purge is the fifth film in this franchise or the fact that I’ve seen and made notes on all of them: The Purge (2013), The Purge: Anarchy (2014), The Purge: Election Year (2016), and The First Purge (2018).
*. The Forever Purge marks another step in the continuing politicization of the franchise. In the previous entry, The First Purge (which was technically a series prequel), we had a shedding of the idea of class war for racial conflict, with (mainly) heroic Blacks defending their ‘hood from angry white guys.
*. That movement toward making heavy-handed political statements continues here, with the action moving to the Texas-Mexico border, swapping Blacks for Mexicans (and a handful of Native Americans). Again the prospect of class war is merely glanced at, addressed in the opening act of violence as a rich family of Texan ranchers is taken out by resentful proles. After that the only politics on tap is the now ubiquitous racial or identity politics. America is terrified of the idea of class warfare, and turning the Purge into rednecks vs. immigrants is a safe (read: politically correct) outlet.
*. So the idea here is that the Purge is seen as such a good idea by some disgruntled Americans that they decide they want to keep the good times rolling and start a permanent revolution: the eternal or forever Purge, which comes with the motto “ever after.” Purging now has less to do with a cathartic outlet for violent imaginings and resentments (as in the first movie) and is now explicitly about purifying America racially in order to make it great again.
*. At which point what you really have is civil war, with all of America’s streets running with blood. Things get so bad that Canada and Mexico temporarily open their borders so that peaceful, good-hearted Americans can flee for safety. Just over the Mexican border they even set up refugee camps for the “American Dreamers.” A camp where they don’t separate parents from their children. Like I say, the politics can be pretty heavy-handed. The one Native leader even takes up arms by saying that they’ve been fighting this war for 500 years. OK.
*. I call it heavy-handed, but I did feel it was at least an antidote to the presentation of Mexicans in Rambo: Last Blood and The Marksman. That the director Everardo Gout is Mexican probably helped. I mean, I think it would be better if simplistic politics were just left out of such movies altogether, but here we are.
*. Once it gets going it’s a pretty decent, or at least average action movie based on the zombie apocalypse template, which I’ve argued is the basic structure of the Purge narrative. And in some ways The Forever Purge helps make sense out of what have been obvious contradictions in the storyline. At some point it was inevitable that hatred of one’s fellow citizens was going to overflow the 12 hours of the designated Purge.
*. A few quibbles along the way. The heroine picks up a rifle to look at some Purgers through the scope and the soldier watching her says “Where’d you learn to handle a weapon like that?” Like what? To pick up a rifle and look through the scope? What makes this even worse is that she picks the rifle up where it is leaning against a wall and puts it back the same way. You don’t do that with rifles. You always lay them flat.
*. I was bothered a lot more at the way, after killing some Purgers the good guys don’t take their weapons but continue to use ropes, bows-and-arrows, hand-axes, and machetes. I can understand doing that so as to provide some more inventive/bloodier kills at the end, but it made no sense.
*. Despite being the poorest performing of the Purge movies thus far, much of which can probably be attributed to the pandemic, a sequel was announced. Which makes sense. The way this one leaves off it really feels like the first of a two-part story of American civil war. I hope that’s the end of it though, as the political satire was handled better in The Hunt and everything about the idea here is starting to feel really played out. Even the costumes aren’t as much fun. But I’ll stick with them for one more instalment. After that they’re getting purged.