Following the return of the Purge after a short hiatus, a group of immigrant ranch workers (Ana de la Reguera, Tenoch Heurta) and the ranch owners (Josh Lucas, Will Patton, and Cassidy Freeman) are attacked in the day following it by a radical white-supremacist group who are intent on killing anyone they deem to be non-American. Taking refuge inside the ranch, the Forever Purge rages across the US and the group soon realise that their country may be beyond saving...
What's always been so frustrating about 'The Purge' as both a franchise and a concept is that it's got the kernel of a fascinating idea, it could explore uncomfortable topics in Western society, but it always seems to fumble it in the execution.
Even though it's now in its fifth movie with a TV series tagging along, 'The Forever Purge' is much the same as the previous movies. You've got a group of protagonists from different walks of life. In previous movies, it's intellectual politicians and hardened bodyguards played by Frank Grillo. This time around, it's a group of immigrants who work on a ranch owned by the younger version of Kevin Costner in 'Yellowstone', or if you're of a certain vintage, McDermott from 'American Psycho'.
Anyway, the Purge happens because it always does, but this time around, it doesn't just end as normal. It goes on because the New Founding Fathers of America Party has stoked the fire too many times and now, there's a full-on race war happening in Texas. Gasp! Political actions have real-world consequences! Marauding bands of gun-toting maniacs are shooting and killing people who don't look like them in order to purge the nation of those it deems to be non-American. Again, you would think this might make for some really searing, biting observations or at least try and meet the moment with the long-simmering racial tensions in the US. Instead, it fumbles the thing like it has so many times before, only just teetering on the edges of something meaningful to say and instead opting for cheap, violent spectacle instead. The only thing it does go off with is the idea that maybe America is beyond saving, but even then, that idea and the finale itself is so heavy-handed and so lacking in subtlety that it just doesn't have a lasting impact.
The action sequences, which make up a good chunk of the movie, are pretty hum-drum and the violence is plentiful but ultimately hollow. The assemblage of actors do what they can with the material, but they're so often let down by it more than helped along by it. Josh Lucas, as an example, is basically playing the same character he's played before in 'Yellowstone', while Tenoch Huerta and Ana de la Reguera get almost no character development of any kind. James DeMonaco, who has written all five of these movies, clearly tapped into something initially, but now that we're in a post-Trump, post-truth world, has it lost some of its zing? Undeniably so. It's not so crazy to imagine the world of 'The Purge' anymore. If anything, the idea of a nation ripping itself apart is kind of trite now.
'The Forever Purge' doesn't have any kind of subtlety, but it's never been a franchise that's had surplus amounts of it. The problem here is that the concept has been well and truly rung dry of anything to say. Though it may have some committed performances from its able cast, the script and the direction are far too flat and uninventive to sustain it any further. That said, creator James DeMonaco says he's got "six more" movies in him around this idea. If they can keep cranking them out cheaply, one of them's got to be better than just OK, right?