The Movie Waffler New to Netflix - THE FOREVER PURGE | The Movie Waffler

New to Netflix - THE FOREVER PURGE

The Forever Purge review
The Purgers decide that one night just isn't enough.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Everardo Valerio Gout

Starring: Ana de la Reguera, Tenoch Huerta, Josh Lucas, Cassidy Freeman, Leven Rambin, Alejandro Edda, Will Patton

the forever purge poster

You know the deal with these movies by now, right? Once a year between the hours of 7pm and 7am, the US allows an amnesty for all crime. Decapitate your next door neighbour. Steal that Porsche from the local car dealership. File a dodgy tax return. Anything goes on Purge Night. The movies of this franchise (this one is the fifth, but it feels like we've gotten twice that number to date) usually involve some members of the lower class, usually people of colour, having to negotiate their way through Purge Night without being targeted by homicidal upper class bigots.

The last few instalments haven't exactly been subtle in their critique of Trump, with the villains falling resolutely into the rich and white camp. There's always been something a little off about the reductive politics of this series, something a little hypocritical. While aiming their ire at America's right, the franchise plays out like free propaganda for the National Rifle Association, with its heroes usually rescued by that mythical figure of the good guy with a gun. The series' mistrust of elites could at times be read as coming from either side of the political fence.

the forever purge review

The Forever Purge sees the franchise lean further to the right. Where rich white people were the baddies before, now it's poor white people. In one of the most right wing scenes to come out of mainstream Hollywood in quite some time, a rich white man lectures a group of Marxists about how they're no better than the Purgers. For a series that hates Trump so much, it sure does sound like it's parroting his "both sides" messaging.

The threadbare plot sees a Mexican immigrant couple – Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and Juan (Tenoch Huerta) – find work in Texas. Adela is a supervisor at a meat packing plant while Juan is a ranch hand for Caleb Tucker (Will Patton), a classic ranch patriarch in the Ben Cartwright/Jock Ewing mould. Unlike his bigoted son (Josh Lucas), Caleb has a fondness for Mexicans and is something of a father figure for Juan.

the forever purge review

As is the custom, everyone locks down for Purge Night, but when they emerge the following morning they find that certain groups have decided one night just isn't enough. As America is decimated by violence, our wealthy white and poor Mexican heroes must band together to battle the true menace – the white working class. If this isn't a liberal Hollywood fantasy writ large, I don’t know what is.

This isn't exactly a series known for its subtle politics, so it seems churlish to get annoyed by its portrayal of poor white people as either one-dimensional racists or murderous Marxists. That said, the more I watched the rich white heroes ingratiate themselves with their brown buddies while mowing down pasty faced plebs left, right and centre, the more sinister and mean-spirited the whole enterprise felt. "We're the good white people," the filmmakers seem to be saying, "You know, the ones with nice houses and good diction. It's those illiterates with bad teeth you need to watch out for." We even get the classic trope of the racist white guy (Josh Lucas as the JR to Will Patton's Jock) who changes his views just by spending some time with a person of colour – think Green Book with explosions.

the forever purge review

Boiled down to its basics, The Forever Purge is a chase thriller, with our heroes trying to get to the sanctuary of Mexico (see what they did there) before the border closes. The action along the way is middling, and a lot of it feels like it's inspired by the Italian Mad Max and Escape from New York clones that propped up video store shelves in the early '80s. Thanks to costume designer Leah Butler, the movie is at least visually arresting, with the Purgers sporting some eye-catching get-ups. I particularly liked the Antifa substitute who wears a mask that makes him look like Yul Brynner with half his face shot off in Westworld.

But I'm grasping at straws here. The Forever Purge is simply another retread of the storyline the series has been using since its first sequel. In trying to reach across the aisle and appease the white rich elite audience it's long been mocking, the franchise seems to be on a fool's errand. I don't think rich white elites spend much of their time watching movies like The Forever Purge. In switching the villainy from the wealthy to the downtrodden, the series has gone from lazily punching up to cruelly punching down.

The Forever Purge is on Netflix UK/ROI now.