The “Purge” franchise offers a glimpse into the progressive mindset.
Previous installments slammed Christians as monsters, railed against President Donald Trump and stoked the dying embers of Occupy Wall Street’s class resentment.
“The Forever Purge,” the fifth and final? installment, takes on immigration and the alleged rise of white supremacy. You’ll swear MSNBC’s Joy Reid spit-polished the screenplay after Brian Stelter took a whack at it.
The franchise’s core gimmick remains in place, but the film’s modest pleasures are overwhelmed by its dopey sloganeering and predictability.
The sequel takes the action away from urban centers and into the heart of Texas. Smart.
We meet a rich white family and their Mexican employees who keep their expansive ranch humming. Guess which ones will be racist and who will be pure as the driven snow? C’mon, guess!
The bigoted patriarch (Josh Lucas, better than the material) helps his family prepare for the Purge’s return. That’s the program created by the New Founding Fathers (evil Republican types) to expunge our worst instincts for the betterment of society.
Everything, including murder, is legal for 12 hours. It’s the franchise’s core hook and it’s never been fully exploited on a psychological level.
The latest Purge comes and goes without incident for our main characters, but some “patriots” aren’t willing to let it end. No, they want … wait for it … a forever Purge to clean society of its dirty citizens. Think black and brown Americans. Yes, white supremacists are purging to their heart’s content, while the ranchers and their noble help scramble for safety.
Franchise auteur James DeMonaco penned the latest installment, and his knack for awful dialogue borders on camp.
“You move fast. It’s not safe out here”
“It’s hard to be social during The Purge”
“Hope you’re not stuck in traffic,” a Deejay says minutes before the Purge kicks in
“Now these a**holes are really pissing me off”
It’s one groaner after another, and that doesn’t include the talking points barely disguised as conversations. Veteran actor Will Patton is forced to spit out an anti-American diatribe that would make Rep. Ilhan Omar blush.
The film flirts with class envy, particularly during one confrontation with the rancher family, but the focus is on white supremacists running wild. The film likely wrapped production before the pandemic kicked in, but it’s astonishing to see wonton destruction without anyone whispering the word, “Antifa.”
We spent the last year watching far-Left forces like Black Lives Matter and Antifa torch cities, smash windows and leave expletive-laced graffiti in their wake. The latest “Purge” insists Trumpian bigots are destroying the country. It’s Fake News storytelling, especially when a tribal leader warns a TV interviewer about Purgers burning cities to the ground.
Has he seen the news today, oh boy.
The latest “Purge” takes its time firing up the B-movie essentials. There’s little action for the first third of the film beyond some dirt-cheap jump scares, and when the purging commences it’s mostly a showcase for the eerie new masks the film’s creative team whipped up.
That franchise sense of deja vu ends during the busy third act. Director Everardo Gout (“Days of Grace”) assembles some solid action movie beats and puts our heroes in near-constant danger. It helps that Ana de la Reguera and Tenoch Huerta, playing the ranch’s most devoted employees, deliver understated turns that make us root for their survival.
DeMonaco also allows Lucas’s character to mature beyond his bigotry, a welcome development.
The “Purge” films have never been smart or insightful. It’s grindhouse storytelling that slaps progressive bullet points on the carnage. That’s equally true with “Forever Purge,” a sequel which name checks big issues but has little to say about them. It’s a series that demands ideological diversity, if only to break up the monotony.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for it, though.
HiT or Miss: “The Forever Purge” offers a slick twist on the franchise’s formula, but the saga’s penchant for dopey messaging dampens the B-movie fun.