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Assassination Nation – Movie Review

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Assassination Nation – Movie Review

Rating: D+ (Bad)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Elevation Pictures

Dark satire is tricky to accomplish properly, as the filmmaker wants to make a statement in a way that puts a horrifying mirror to the audience, but it can turn around and be shocking just for the sake of being. Assassination Nation certainly has a worthy message about the lack of privacy in today’s culture and how people are quick to dig into peoples’ personal thoughts and lives. However, the movie mostly descends into senseless violence and characters that fit into one-dimensional archetypes. The film alternates between impressively showy and obnoxious in its presentation and by the end, the satire has ultimately been lost under all of the blood and carnage.

The film already opens with a tongue-in-cheek disclaimer, mocking “triggers” and what will likely offend the audience over the next hundred minutes. This gives an early indication of what director/writer Sam Levinson’s goals are. Almost every current controversial topic under the sun is thrown at the screen, but without much substance behind them. The entire film reads like a checklist of subjects Levinson seeks to address, when more focus would have helped the final product. A lot of the dialogue also sounds like what an edgy teenager might write to offend their superiors. Admittedly, most of the central characters are supposed to be edgy teens, but what they say doesn’t feel natural.

Hidden beneath the many themes in Assassination Nation is a good one about the lack of privacy today. This is a generation raised on Internet leaks and the Schadenfreude that comes from reading personal information. For a moment, it seems like the movie will take a sledgehammer to this thought process and why it’s poisonous. One of the better dialogue exchanges is when one of the central characters is discussing the issue with her parents at the dinner table. However, this eventually gets lost to the many scenes of violence that occur. The audience is pummelled with scene after scene of people acting like lunatics and committing violent crimes.

Rather than saying something, and the film clearly wants to say a lot, the themes are drowned out by the violence. The whole film eventually becomes gruesome to an almost fetishist degree. It’s generally horrible seeing what is inflicted on the main quartet of teenage girls we follow, which is obviously the point, but it gets tiring after a while. The editing doesn’t help matters with an irritating use of fast cuts. Director of photography Marcell Rev does put together some impressive shots, though. There is an unbroken tracking shot through a house that is well mounted and deserves credit for how it’s put together on a technical level.

Assassination Nation wants to be edgy and controversial, but otherwise feels completely empty. Even when it does worthy things like discussing privacy in the current era and casting a transgender actress and allowing her to talk about trans issues, the film also takes two steps backwards into gratuitous material. Assassination Nation is just disorienting and mostly wants to shock the audience with gore and guts. Eventually, it just become mind-numbing and while the movie is saying a lot, it eventually clicks that it’s not saying much of anything at all.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE


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