Review: Ideas end at the premise in 'The Forever Purge'

The fifth "Purge" takes place in Texas during a Purge that never ends, which is how this series is starting to feel.

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

The "Purge" movies are better in concept than they are in execution. They are built on an intriguing if lug headed premise — what if, for one night only, all crime was legal? — but their depth ends there. They're like a paranoid conspiracy theorist who just when you think they're onto something loses train of their thought. 

"The Forever Purge," the fifth "Purge," talks a big game, employing all sorts of charged political words and theories but doesn't do anything interesting with them, using them as kindling for a lame action thriller that never plants its flag in the ground. If "The Purge" movies were ever going to catch fire, it would have happened by now. 

Josh Lucas in "The Forever Purge."

Josh Lucas stars as Dylan Tucker, a rancher in Texas who is not participating in the annual Purge. (In "Purge" movies, there are two types of characters: those who do and don't Purge.) He locks down with his family (including his pregnant wife, Emma Kate, played by Cassidy Freeman) while the sirens go off and the Purge commences. All is set to return to normal the following morning, except the Purgers decide to keep on Purging. Dude, what happens if the Purge never ends? 

As America rages, Mexico and Canada decide to open their borders to those attempting to flee the violence. See what they did there? If Mexico were to open its border to Americans, who's the Dreamer now? (Canada, tossed in as an aside, is only mentioned peripherally in background news reports.)   

Dylan, who has racist tendencies of his own (he pointedly explains his feelings that all races should just stick to their own), is forced to learn the error of his ideologies as the tables are turned on him. Meanwhile some key words and phrases are tossed out — "bad hombres," a guy who calls his significant other "Mother" — as stand-ins for actual political commentary. "The Purge" movies still want you to believe they stand for something, but they're just cheap window dressing on conventional genre tales, this one a race to the border. Anyone else feeling Purged out?


'The Forever Purge'


Rated R: for strong/bloody violence, and language throughout

Running time: 103 minutes

In theaters