June 2015. Do you remember where you were when “he who shall not be named,” said it? Pushing through his barmy yet ultimately successful run to be 45th President of the United States, he went forth through his supporters and said in one mad voice “I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great great wall on our southern border and I’ll have Mexico pay for that wall.” And we, collectively and with Dr. Evil firmly in our thoughts responded with a sarcastic “Riigghhhttt….”.
Regardless of its progress since, it fuelled waves of protestations and angry rhetoric (and rightly so) and made those relationships between the Americas at the border even tenser than ever before. Then again, most things in the wake of You Know Who are that way – or worse – and whether economic, social, or political, it’s still all a bit of mess, so much so that the outlandish yet scarily too close for comfort narrative of The Purge franchise has given us a morbid yet not unrealistic peek into what might have happened had Term II: The Quickening taken place. Years on, and while the franchise’s quality has fluctuated over its previous four entries and television series, no-one had been pushing the buttons nobody dares touch, especially in such a mainstream way.
The Forever Purge, set a few years adrift of the others, goes deep in its unpacking of the wall and the issues therein, showcases what America could become in its darkest possible history but its premise is wearing thin. Whereas before, The New Founding Fathers’ once yearly relaxation of all crime was supposed to cleanse the country of its sins and sinners, the new entry asks what if all bets were off? What if those who needed “purging” weren’t the only targets? It’s a terrifying thought but something that, perhaps even more terrifying, could come to fruition given the right push.
Filmmaker Everardo Gaut, along with Purge creator James DeMonaco, begins on a standard footing with the annual day beginning like any other – piles of dead bodies, shootings, and more celebrated with BBQs, beer, and hashtags. But as it becomes increasingly more bogged down with the politics of border control, immigration, chasing that ever-fading American Dream – particularly true of new additions Ana de la Reguera and Tenoch Huerta – it loses much of its initial impact, settling on the Mexican shootout and almost video-game-esque motifs instead of its original cinematic horror elements, soon becoming a jumbled, chaotic and, frankly, dirty mess. There are some decent moments but such is the unbalance of it all, it’s hard to really care about those we are surrounded by.
What made The Purge such a fascinating idea was its unequivocal attempts to show just how far the greatest country in the world had come up short, both to those who were born and bred or who came looking for a fresh start and by its own declarations about what it always should strive to be. Purging, it says, is American. A year or two ago, who knows how close all this might have been to becoming a reality – thankfully, those dark, misguided days seem to be drifting away, and the fiction with it all laid to rest.
Action, Horror | USA, 2021 | 18 | 16th July 2021 (UK) | Cinema | Universal Pictures | Dir.Everardo Gout | Ana de la Reguera, Tenoch Huerta, Josh Lucas, Will Patton,