Written by Alexander Reams
Nearly eight years ago, a movie with Ethan Hawke came out. The film was marketed as a home invasion/ horror movie and was lackluster to say the least. Then, every summer for three years straight audiences got another movie in the PCU (Purge Cinematic Universe). I have enjoyed every entry since that inaugural entry, with The First Purge being my favorite entry in the franchise, it felt fresh and full of life, something The Purge: Election Year was sorely missing. Even with Frank Grillo being an absolute beast during the film, it felt like a dead body on Purge night. Now there is another newcomer director to the franchise, Everardo Gout, but there is still old blood behind the camera, producer Jason Blum and writer (and former director) James DeMonaco. Unfortunately unlike the previous Purge film, this mix didn’t work.
Every Purge film has been about one night of crime, you just knew that eventually they had to expand, this film finally does that and depicts the collapse of America and reverses the refugee crisis to have Americans be the refugees. Which leads the film to be a movie that makes white people try to feel bad about themselves and tries to condemn America for their treatment of the refugees. While that discussion is an important one, it’s not what the film is about, it’s how it’s about it. Unfortunately there is no subtlety to this, which takes away any enjoyment of the film.
I’ll just jump straight into what I liked about the film, the action set pieces. Gout brings a different style than the 2 previous directors, DeMonaco and Gerard McMurray (The First Purge). His camera placement and blocking of the scenes reminded me of 1990s action films, particularly Blade and The Fugitive. He shines brightly in the final gunfight with how he places the audience in the fight and I really enjoyed that. Gout employs a frenetic style that is very reminiscent of the Saw franchise, and it makes all of the action scene unwatchable, until the final gunfight, which drops all of that for beautiful wide shots, only cutting when necessary.
Everything leading up to this however is absolute garbage. Every quiet moment was trying way too hard to be politically relevant, especially Josh Lucas’ character. He was a big draw for me to see this film, but his role is a caricature of a typical rich white racist from Texas, and after 10 minutes it got very annoying. The blame lies in DeMonaco, he wrote the screenplay for every Purge film thus far. However even with Election Year, he wasn’t this heavy handed with the dialogue, I legitimately felt like I was being beaten with a sledgehammer with the message he wanted the audience to get. Almost every performance is bad, except Ana de la Reguera, which after her role in Army of the Dead, I knew she was an actor to watch. Here she stands out among a range of mediocre to bad performances and makes the film slightly more watchable. This is easily the worst Purge film so far and hopefully if another is made, it will be much higher in quality than this garbage fire.
The Forever Purge Trailer
The Forever Purge is now available to rent and purchase on major digital platforms.