BAXTER — What if one day a year all crime — including murder — was legal?

“The Forever Purge” takes that novel albeit reprehensible premise first introduced in 2013 with “The Purge” and expands upon it in the new release playing at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter.

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“The Forever Purge” is a modern-day allegory chillingly relevant in light of the real-life Jan. 6 Capitol riots by Trump supporters.

In the R-rated motion picture, a violent annual tradition known as “the purge” permits normally illegal acts once a year with no repercussions in a form of bloodletting of the national psyche.

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The action-horror franchise charts new territory in “The Forever Purge,” the fourth and supposedly final sequel whose theatrically release by Universal Pictures was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The terror continues, however, according to the movie’s website “as members of an underground movement, no longer satisfied with one annual night of anarchy and murder, decide to overtake America through an unending campaign of mayhem and massacre.”

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A Mexican couple on the run from a drug cartel enters the United States illegally by crossing the Texas border. The husband and wife find employment with some ranchers some months later.

Law-abiding and moral Americans and those with a conscientious objection to the purge are forced to hole up, shelter in place and defend themselves as 24-hours of chaos and lawlessness by masked individuals goes on around them with abhorrent consequences.

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The devil’s bargain and descent into madness in the dystopian thriller is arguably an effective jingoistic method to control the more barbaric and basic instincts of American society.

The citizenry is allowed to engage in criminal activity that’s presented by the federal government as patriotic but arguably serves as a divisive diversion to further class and economic warfare.

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Americans too enthralled with the purge fail to recognize it serves as a way for those in power — namely in the movie white, older and rich men — to maintain their way of life.

In the latest sequel, the illegal aliens who snuck across from Mexico into the U.S. work hard for a ranching family who rely on the immigrants’ labor but at the same time fear and distrust them.

All of that changes when the Mexican couple and the ranching family find themselves in the same proverbial boat when some Americans seek to continue the purge indefinitely.

Through violent means and terrorism, the armed insurgents seek to ethnically cleanse America while redistributing the wealth and power currently held by the “one-percenters” of the nation.

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“The New Founding Fathers of America” in the feature film begin, however, to lose control over its citizenry and in an ironic twist Mexico temporarily opens its borders as a sanctuary for those Americans seeking to escape and survive the knife-wielding, gun-toting purge supporters.

The question is will the Mexican couple and Texas ranchers find a way to work together and overcome their cultural differences to make it to the border or will the challenges that face them prove insurmountable and they go at each others’ throats in a desperate bid to live?

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The screenplay is by franchise creator James DeMonaco and is directed by Everardo Gout. The film stars Josh Lucas and is co-produced by Blumhouse Productions.

“The Forever Purge” holds a 46% approval rating among critics and a 79% approval rating among audiences at Rotten Tomatoes, a review-aggregation website for film and television.

The consensus from the critics at RottenTomatoes.com: “‘The Forever Purge' fails to fully engage with its most frighteningly timely themes, but the franchise remains largely — albeit bluntly — effective.”

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bdfilmforum.