Film Review: Assassination Nation

Sam Levinson’s Assassination Nation is an entertaining satire. The film is brash, outlandish, and a lot of fun. 

Lily and her three friends are just four ordinary teens at high school in their small town of Salem. When high-profile residents start getting their data hacked, it is only a matter of time before the secrets revealed start effecting everyone…

Skewering privacy, the impact of smartphones, and public versus private personas, Assassination Nation is a very contemporary satire. Writer-director Sam Levinson presents the film with a trigger warning at the beginning. This tongue in cheek introduction sets the tone of the movie. The unsubtle tone may be divisive, but those who buy in should have an enjoyable ride. 

The first section of the film establishes the protagonist Lily and her circle. Levinson takes his time in establishing the main characters and their relationship with one another. In doing so, another facet of the world is projected. Even before the leak takes place, the environment that Lily inhabits appears grim. The preoccupation with image and reputation, the onslaught of imagery and the need to keep up, and the disconnect from other generations seems damaging at best. 

As the narrative progresses, both viewers and the protagonists see the impact of the hack before it reaches them personally. The film takes its time to reach crisis point; the pacing is a little hit and miss. Nevertheless, this lets the film function for what it is; a modern riff of the Salem witch trials. The crescendo is achieved in the final third of the film, with action veering between chaotic and gory. 

Odessa Young actress does a great job as Lily. Her delivery is most apt. Hari Nef also decent as Bex. Bella Thorne very amusing in a minor role. Marcell Rév’s cinematography has some great flashes. Music is also used effectively.

Assassination Nation is an abrasive picture, but one that demands the viewer’s attention. It will be interesting to see what Levinson tackles next.

Assassination Nation will be screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2018. The film is out on UK cinemas on 23rd November 2018.

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