It seems that we are in a time where there are few franchises that I will still be excited enough to see at the cinema and The Purge is on that little list. From the first movie, the idea has remained interesting and gets my imagination flying through its darkest valleys and just as importantly it is a series where I have always left the cinema thinking about it for days to come. This is still true with The Forever Purge, I saw it two days ago and did not write up this review straight away as I wanted to see how the film sat with me and yes, it is still in my mind, which in a time of throwaway popcorn trash is a recommendation in itself, even if only to the people that already love the series.
As a fifth movie, it beats out Friday The 13th : A New Beginning (which got better after 5 but that is a comment for a later post), A Nightmare On Elm Street : The Dream Child, Halloween 5 and Hellraiser Inferno. There still seems to be steam in this runaway train, even if this is not the best in the series, it is enough that I would still be seeing a sixth instalment, even though I promised my sequel hating friend (hey Sue!) that this was definitely the last one…
It’s not the strongest idea to play with the dynamics at this point, even though it is an original take on the series, the idea of The Purge, if this is your first time, is that for one night a year, crime becomes legal. Here, there are a number of purgers who decide that it should continue. A klaxon here for something that I did not like, throughout these scenes, the supporters hold up flags for the “Ever After’ Purge. It is referred this way in TV reports too, in fact there is only one time that a news anchor calls it ‘The Forever Purge’ as if they realised late on that they had named the movie wrongly and wanted something to point to. A small thing to be annoyed about but…have you met me?
Okay, we are going negatives first, it seems, so let’s also chuck in that the most exciting part of these films is normally when the purge commences, but here it is run and done within’, ooh, I didn’t time it, but let’s say half an hour? Now, I KNOW the idea is that the purge is now going to keep running, but still, I wanted more from the actual purge sequences than I got, based on past triumphs. In fact the film is supremely quiet, that seems to be the best word, for a long time, it is the slow burn type of film, which features such more talking and plot development than you might expect from an ageing franchise. The problem with this, is I was left with not really feeling for any of the characters. Josh Lucas plays a great conservative cowboy who you really want to see purged, ASAP, and Ana De La Reguera is a likeable Mexican who you have seen go through hell to come to the ‘promised land’. But then…the film flips this, you find out that Adela, Reguera’s character, is not new to the art of the revolver and she seems just as fine blasting away as she was just giving the love eyes earlier. Once the conservative is scared of the Forever Purge, he joins up and helps those he was previously completely against. I guess this is the old ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ adage, but it still feels weird, but I AM still thinking about it which should be a positive and so…
Positives – the performances are all top notch and importantly, without any big stars, you never know whether any of these heroes/villains you are invested in are going to be taken away by a stray bullet. Like the best moments in the previous films, I was kept in a constant state of flux and excitement and unlike those other franchises (F13th & Halloween excepted, obvs) there was no smart mouthed comedy added. When things get tense, they stay tense and you have no idea where they are going. The cinematography is excellent and it shows exactly what 21st century media looks like, with the rolling TV footage with live reporters on the ground (leading to one particularly amazing scene) and the helicopters showing the district on fire. In both a literal and a metaphorical way. There are some great sudden and shocking kills here too, surprised that this got a 15 to be honest from the draconian BBFC and there’s some new Purge masks that are likely to be sellout Funko Pops soon.
Overall, The Forever Purge is another grand night out at the cinema. Sure it is not as surprising as the original movie or as strong in its message and what it is actually trying to say as Election Year, but perhaps when The Purge does not seem like the craziest idea in the cinema, we should be reflecting a mirror back on the society that created it, which is the great message of the whole series, right?