This is NOT America. Sorry, whippersnappers.
Lily (Odessa Young) is just another young girl living in America. She’s got three best friends that she constantly hangs around, a boyfriend who she loves, and knows a thing or two about how to work a phone. And while everything seems to be going perfectly for her and everyone else around her in this sleepy, small and relaxed town of Salem, Massachusetts, it all goes awry when it turns out that there’s a hacker among one of them and is driving the town absolutely insane. It starts off somewhat harmless and simple, when a local politician who’s anti-LGBTQ+ turns out to be enjoy sexual-advances from the same sex, actually gets in front of a crowd and kills himself. Why? All that shame has made him nothing inside and it’s only the beginning, too, because it isn’t long before everyone and anyone is hacked, with the personal information out there for the whole world to see, and their lives basically ruined. And when stuff like that happens, there’s only worse to come.
Assassination Nation is the kind of movie that thinks it has its finger so on the pulse and is so freakin’ woke that it’s almost unbearable. Almost. The reason why it works at all is because writer/director Sam Levinson (in a total departure from his underrated debut, Another Happy Day) never wants us to be bored. In a way, he pulls out all the stops that most directors get out their way with their first film, but Levinson, who loves colors that pop, camera-angles that make you tilt your head, and a pulse-ripping score, is going all out here and in a way, yeah, it works.
It makes sense because it’s a movie that’s aimed at the same sort of young people it’s about, so of course it would need bright colors, loud noises, and a whole lot of action so that things don’t seem too bored. This is usually called “annoying” and in a ways, “pretentious”, but considering how far the plot goes and how quickly it falls apart, I’m willing to give Levinson a pass for genuinely impressing me with some of the stuff he was able to pull off. But however, it makes Assassination Nation just barely bearable.
And the reason why Assassination Nation falls apart is because what starts off as a very interesting take on social-media, public doxxing, homophobia, transphobia, rape, racism, gun-violence, politics, and plenty more, eventually just turns into an insane, over-the-top, and unnecessary violent movie in the same realm as the Purge. What could have been a stimulating conversation or even argument about the powerful influence social-media has over our world now, mostly just turns into a bunch of blood, guts, and bullets, and that’s really it. You could almost make an assumption that Levinson is trying to subvert the audiences expectations, or better yet, make a point about how evil, sick, and twisted the world has become, but really, it just seems like he lost himself and didn’t know where to go, so why not keep the violence comin’?
Like I said, it’s shot wonderfully and of course, it can get a bit disturbing at times, but Assassination Nation never feels real, honest, or even as woke as it wants to be. It’s a movie that starts off by saying how its audience is going to be offended, yet, doesn’t really act on any of those unnecessary promises; if violence was what we needed a “trigger-warning” for, then so be it, but not disturbed by something most high school kids in today’s day and age. And you just get the sense that Levinson is desperately trying to make us think more about the world we live in and how we’re all becoming awful, when in reality, the movie just wants to show us a bunch of teenagers going on around and killing one another.
And there’s nothing wrong with that in movies. But don’t try to hide it. Be yourself.
Consensus: Even despite the promising start, Assassination Nation turns into a nonsensical, uninteresting, and eventual dull movie that sees a good director stuck of where to go, or what to do next.
5.5 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: NEON
I’ve heard from some who really like this and others who were much more ‘blah’. I haven’t been able to muster up the excitement for it.