THE PURGE franchise has been an amazing Hollywood success story. Beginning in 2013 with THE PURGE, its four films have brought in over US$450 million at the box office off a combined production budget of under $53 million. Even AVENGERS: ENDGAME hasn’t had a return on investment like that. But despite its success at the box office, the films haven’t felt the love from either critics or audiences. They’re basically considered to be niche midnight viewing – plenty of carnage without a strong narrative to back it up. With the fifth and final installment in the franchise here (though no IP, successful or otherwise, stays on the shelf too long in Hollywood these days), THE FOREVER PURGE comes in with low expectations, though this time series creator and writer James DeMonaco has decided to infuse the story with talking points torn from speeches and 3 am tweets made by the Tangerine Buffoon and his gang of sycophants.
A sequel to THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR, the third film in the series, THE FOREVER PURGE focuses on an event that has been in the headlines over the past few years. The story begins with Juan (Tenoch Huerta, BEL CANTO; SPECTRE) and his wife Adela (Ana de la Reguera, TV’s NARCOS) paying Mexican coyotes to smuggle them across the border to the US. Once across, they eventually find work in Texas – he on a horse farm owned by Caleb Tucker (Will Patton, MINARI; REMEMBER THE TITANS; ARMAGEDDON) and she in a commercial kitchen in nearby Austin. Both are hardworking and determined to make new lives for themselves in America. Unfortunately for Juan though, he has to deal with Tucker’s mildly racist liberal son, Dylan (Josh Lucas, FORD V FERRARI; BOYCHOIR), who is a bit jealous of Juan’s horsewhispering skills. Dylan’s also not very happy that his sister, Harper (Leven Rambin, MANK), seems to have more than a passing interest in another Mexican ranch hand, T.T. (Alejandro Edda, AMERICAN MADE; TV’s NARCOS: MEXICO).
With the return to power of the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) in Washington, the Purge – the annual 12-hour window when all crime is legal – has been reinstated, so at 7 pm that evening, the Tuckers close the electric shutters and barricade themselves inside for the night while Adela, Juan, T.T. and the other Mexican illegal immigrants in the area seek shelter in a guarded warehouse in town. The Purge comes and goes and everyone survives, but when the morning breaks, they are surprised to learn that a well-armed group of White supremacists have called for a Forever Purge to rid America of not just its people of colour but also its wealthy class. With their lives now at risk, Dylan and his heavily his pregnant wife, sister Harper, and the three Mexicans band together to take a perilous journey to El Paso where they hope to cross into Mexico along with thousands of other Americans who have sought refuge there.
There is nothing about THE FOREVER PURGE that will surprise audiences who are familiar with this franchise. I’ll concede that it does have one or two amusing lines of dialogue – particularly one that could be credited to Mike Pence – but, for the most part, the story is as obvious as a zit on the end of one’s nose and as dumb as a sack of hammers. Perhaps the most ridiculous is the amount of exposition that goes on, specifically with lines like “They’re getting closer!” Yeah, we can see that and, besides, did you think they wouldn’t be getting closer? There are also the plot developments that defy logic. After a military base comes under attack from the “Ever After Purgers”, the government decides to retreat, leaving complete mayhem to run rampant. Really? Any sane government would call in the big guns to restore social order as quickly as possible. This same government also announces that the Canadian and Mexican borders will be open for six hours to allow Americans to stream across. First off, I would safely venture to say that 90 percent of Americans live more than a six-hour drive away from the border and second, have you ever been to a border crossing when it’s busy? You might end up spending a few hours just trying to get across. Then there are all the highways leading up to the border. They, most certainly, would be jammed up for miles.
But if unfettered carnage is your thing, THE FOREVER PURGE will not disappoint. The problem is that DeMonaco and director Everardo Valerio Gout (DÍAS DE GRACIA) were trying to make it something more than that. They failed.
THE FOREVER PURGE opened both in Hong Kong and around the world last weekend.
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