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Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
The Forever Purge

Title: The Forever Purge

Describe This Movie Using One Rick and Morty Quote:

VENDOR: Oh, have you been here before?
RICK: No, no, but I've been to a few planets with the same gimmick. You know, sometimes it's called The Cleansing or The Red Time. There was this one world that called it just Murder Night.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Say, this dystopia looks familiar.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 2 On the Border albums out of 5.

Tagline: "The rules are broken."

Better Tagline: "Right back where we started then?"

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Immigrants Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and Juan (Tenoch Huerta) were lucky enough to cross the U.S.-Mexico border and secure employment (she at a meat processing plant, he on a ranch) just before the annual Purge, that night where all crime in America is legal. After sheltering in a secure facility, they think they're in the clear when morning comes. Unfortunately, many of their new countrymen have decided one night of mayhem isn't enough.

"Critical" Analysis: James DeMonaco's Purge movies always walked a blurry line between political commentary and exploitation, too often slipping into the latter and fetishizing the violence even as they started reflecting reality more accurately than many were comfortable admitting.

Because after all, isn't the NFFA just conservatism stripped to its white supremacist essence? Wouldn't something like the Purge be right up the alley of fascists looking to eradicate liberals and minorities? And doesn't the series eerily predict where the country might be headed?

Not really, but we'll get to that.

The biggest problem with The Forever Purge is how it abandons the central conceit of the series. Previous movies focused on the protagonists' struggle to survive until the end of the Purge while simultaneously giving us wider looks at the phenomenon itself. Here, with the murderousness extending indefinitely, the characters' situation is indistinguishable from any of a thousand other shoot-em-ups.

The movies have always done a decent job pulling "Hey, it's that dude" talent (Frank Grillo, Mykelti Williamson). This time around, it's Josh (Sweet Home Alabama) Lucas. Lucas plays Dylan Tucker, oldest son and heir apparent to the ranch where Juan works. Animosity between the pair dissipates as events unfold and it becomes clear the "Ever After Purgers" are targeting the wealthy as well as brown people.

Dylan's not "really" racist, though. He just wants everyone to "stick with their own kind," so that's ... okay. His pregnant wife Emma (Cassidy Freeman) also does the quickest one-eighty from "We can bring up our child with love" to "I'm not raising a kid in this shit" you've ever seen.

With the usual deadline out of the way, Adela, Dylan, et. al now have to get to the border before it's shut down. See, thanks to the collapse of American society, Mexico and Canada have opened their gates to U.S. citizens for six hours. Good news for a bunch of folks in south Texas. Tough shit if you live in Florida. Or hell, Kansas.

The only real twist here is how the enthusiastic fascists end up screwing up the NFFA's strategy by going "All Purge, All the Time." Broadcast asides let us know the government has declared martial law to deal with the situation, but to no avail. It would seem a strange note to end on, since DeMonaco had previously said this would be the final movie. Surprise! He and producer Jason Blum are now hinting there could be more to come.

And while the Purge movies maybe have other settings and angles to explore, the reality they supposedly mirror is far too banal in its evil. The real powers that be hardly require an annual orgy of violence to perpetuate their control.

Because when attacks on ethnic minorities and Jews are at historic highs, when states are making it more difficult for the poor and people of color to vote, and when the Right is actively trying to erase the history of the oppressed in this country, 12 hours of murder a year seems almost quaint.

The Forever Purge is in theaters now.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar