Review: The Forever Purge Concludes a Brutal Series on a Relevant, Prescient and Terrifying Note

The fifth and supposedly final Purge movie, The Forever Purge begins not with the annual, 12-hour violent crime spree that is the focal point of this series but with a Mexican couple coming across the border into the United States. Supposedly, the new administration finally banned the practice of purging—where all crime, including murder, is legal for 12 hours—but the new president has seen fit to reinstate it. Adela (Ana de la Reguera, Army of the Dead) and husband Juan (Tenoch Huerta, Days of Grace) now live in Texas, where he works as a ranch hand and resident horse whisperer for a Texas family led by father Caleb Tucker (Will Patton) and his mildly racist son Dylan (Josh Lucas), whose wife Emma Kate (Cassidy Freeman) is pregnant; her sister (Leven Rambin) lives with them as well, and together, they plan on riding out the return of the Purge behind steel gates. Caleb gives all of his workers a bonus to help them pay for protection during the Purge as well, so Juan and Adela buy a place in a protected building to live in while the world goes to hell.

The Forever Purge Image courtesy of Universal Pictures

Oddly enough, the actual end of the Purge takes place at almost exactly the 30-minute mark in the film, and as people begin to emerge from their protected shelters, and the nation at large begins the process of cleaning up the damage and dealing with the dead, a band of masked assailants with a distinctly white-supremacist rhetoric and iconography continues the lawless killing, declaring “Purge ever after” and “this is the Forever Purge.” The entire movement seems loosely organized, and while it has a relatively small number of members, they are heavily armed and profoundly angry at the infiltration of foreign blood that "plagues" America. There’s almost no way of watching these parts of the film and not seeing the similarities to the January 6 insurrection, which the filmmakers could never have predicted when making the film and yet somehow did.

With The Forever Purge, series writer James DeMonaco (who also directed the fist three Purge movies) and director Everardo Valerio Gout (Days of Grace) have crafted what might be the best film in the franchise after the original 2013 The Purge. The way the Purge enthusiasts target anyone who isn’t “pure” American is chilling and a bit too believable, which may make some so uncomfortable, they may not like the film. In a perfect twist to the storyline, the Mexican and Canadian governments agree to open their borders to any American citizens for a brief time so they can flee the violence, causing massive lines to leave America. But when the violence becomes too much at key border towns, the borders are closed early, leaving many red-blooded, white Americans (including the Tucker family) to sneak illegally across the border into Mexico where they must live in a makeshift refugee camp until the nationwide insurrection is over, assuming it ever is.

Unlike many of the other Purge films, in which not getting to know the characters is kind of the point, The Forever Purge is very much about this core group of white and Latino players whose lives we are thrown into quite a bit before the campaign of mayhem even begins. The only way they can survive is by seeing their common dilemma and working together, and their journey is brutal, bloody and not without casualties. I was genuinely surprised by how deeply involved I got in their treacherous travels through Texas, and if this is actually the final film in this terror franchise, it’s good they went out on a high, relevant note, even if it all feels a bit exploitative in the end. It begs the question: Did The Purge movies catch up to reality, or did reality catch up to the films?

The film is now playing exclusively in theaters.

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Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a frequent contributor at /Film ( and Backstory Magazine. He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.