With The Forever Purge, the Purge series is starting to hit the same wall that many other long-running franchises do: forcing itself to keep growing in size and scale and obscuring what made it appealing in the first place. Since 2013, James DeMonaco’s Purge films have been touching on a fascinating dystopian concept: What if, for one night a year, all crime was legal? The social and political ramifications of such an idea is at the heart of the series, examining the primal nature of humans when restrictions are lifted.

The premise of the Purge films is ready-made for the big screen, setting the stage for high-octane set pieces depicting pure chaos unfolding in the streets. The original Purge movie lacked the budget to follow through on the mayhem that the concept promised, so it played out as more of a typical home invasion thriller. But off of the original’s success came 2014’s The Purge: Anarchy, the strongest entry in the series, finally expanding to the streets and treating viewers to the thrill ride it was meant to be. Centered around Frank Grillo’s Sgt. Leo Barnes, Anarchy’s scope sat perfectly in a “sweet spot”: unlike the first film, it was not so insular as to make audiences feel like they’re missing out on the real action, but it still provided plenty of violence against the sprawling backdrop of downtown Los Angeles. Subsequently, The Purge: Election Year broadened the focus to include the broad political ramifications behind the scenes, but still focused on Barnes and Senator Roan's battle against a small sect of the NFFA.

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Related: The Purge Movies: How To Watch In Chronological Order

However, the Purge series is five films and a television series deep, and thus is backing itself into a corner. It’s the same corner many other franchises are seeing themselves painted into, most notably the Fast & Furious films: on a long enough timeline, size and scale must continuously outdo itself, growing exponentially until eventually, the series is unrecognizable from what drew its audiences in to begin with, which is the problem facing The Forever Purge. For so long, what has made a Purge film feel so distinct were small details that were easy to keep up with in small groups, like the instantly identifiable masks donned by Purgers, or the neon aesthetic set against the darkness of the nighttime setting. By the time The Forever Purge is over, countless generic shooters on both sides are simply unloading bullet after bullet into their foes in broad daylight, in what feels no different from any other type of mass gunfight in any other film or TV show.

Leven Rambin as Harper Tucker in The Forever Purge

For many, the allure of The Purge was how a night of legal crime might affect the human psyche, seeing what type of people might hunker down, and what type of people might indulge in the festivities. The first three films grew progressively from a single household to a city to an entire country, and after that, even though The First Purge was a prequel that went back to the very beginning of the timeline, that can only be done once. Now, The Forever Purge is depicting an all-out war, pitting militant “Purge Purification” squads against hapless citizens even after the siren has declared the end of the titular night. With the roving convoys of Purge Purification tanks and the seemingly endless squads within them, they’ve become a faceless militia, and while there’s something to be said for the symbolism of such a choice, clearly identifiable antagonists have long been a hallmark of the stronger Purge films.

Having the anarchy at its core extend past the sirens and on such a massive scale is just further diluting the pathos that made The Purge exciting in the first place. It seems obvious, but if the chaos is extending past the end of the designated Purge hours, then there isn’t much special or exciting about the idea of a Purge anymore. That being said, a potential solution is difficult to conceptualize. DeMonaco and Blumhouse can’t unring that bell, so to speak, short of a reboot, so if the Purge series does continue after The Forever Purge, it will be interesting to see if it continues to grow in scale.

More: Will There Ever Be A Purge 6?

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