Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Assassination Nation (2018)

Streaming Service: Hulu
Movie Name/Year: Assassination Nation (2018)
Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime
Length: 108 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: BRON Studios, Foxtail Entertainment, Phantom Four Films, Creative Wealth Media Finance, Neon, Apollo Films, Cine Canibal, Elevation Pictures, Refinery29, Universal Pictures International (UPI), Universum Film (UFA)
Director: Sam Levinson
Writer: Sam Levinson
Actors: Odessa Young, Abra, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Colman Domingo, Danny Ramirez, Joel McHale, Maude Apatow, Cody Christian, Bill SkarsgĂ„rd, Cullen Moss, Bella Thorne, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Anika Noni Rose, Jeff Pope, Noah Galvin, Stacie Davis, Lukas Gage, Susan Misner, Kathryn Erbe, Joe Chrest, J.D. Evermore, Caden Swain, Andrene Ward-Hammond, Lucy Faust, Destiny Reed

Blurb from IMDb: After a malicious data hack exposes the secrets of the perpetually American town of Salem, chaos descents and four girls must fight to survive, while coping with the hack themselves.

Selina’s Point of View:
I have some very strong views on this film, but it’s going to be hard to get them all out without going into spoiler territory.

The first 20 minutes of Assassination Nation felt unbearable to me. There wasn’t a single likeable character. Every vapid teen it followed made me feel more disgusted than the last. If anything, the only character I could get behind at all was the principal. It felt like I had been sold a plot that was not even on the horizon. I had to pause the movie twice because it was just that hard to watch.

When things changed, it went hard.

Only about two minutes after my last pause, the film took a serious 180 and I never looked away again.

The characters never became likeable. They weren’t meant to be. That’s not what the film is about. In fact, if you relate to any of these characters. Please. Get therapy. That said, the message is loud and fucking clear.

There’s nothing subtle here. You’ll be left thinking at the end, but not about what Sam Levinson (Euphoria, Another Happy Day, The Wizard of Lies), the writer/director, wanted to portray to you. You’ll be left thinking about the fucked-up nature of our world. Assassination Nation goes into internet privacy, cancel culture, mob mentality, politics, feminism, fascism, homophobia, transphobia – it even slips in some perspective on anarchy.

I was completely engulfed in the plot, and the message. It didn’t matter that every single character was unlikable, because there was a side that was clearly in the right regardless of their flaws. In the end, I think that was the most important point.

Levinson wanted to show the audience that there was a wrong and a right, regardless of our personal feelings for someone. He wanted us to side with people that we didn’t like. And it worked.

This was clearly a modern-day telling of the Salem Witch Trials. It is a film that really shows how little humanity, as a whole, has changed. Witches may not be on the menu anymore, but we’re still hunting.

So, yeah, there are parts of this movie that are difficult to watch – but I think those parts are necessary. I needed to dislike the main characters in order to get the full weight of what Assassination Nation was about.

What matters is that I was entertained, I learned something, and I didn’t waste my time. I’d say this movie is worth it.

It has a hard R-rating though. Seriously. 18 or over.

Cat’s Point of View:
When I listed Assassination Nation as my #18 on my Top 20 Movies for September 2018, I shared that the movie looked like it would be a bit bonkers. Now that I’ve watched it, I’d have to say that’s not too far off the mark. It’s definitely a barrage to the senses.

Those squeamish, easily triggered, or easily offended may not enjoy this movie very much. You know you’re in for a rough ride when the actual film gives you its own trigger warnings. I’m not kidding.

Let’s break it down a little bit comparing my guesses based on the trailer to the movie, itself.

Mass hysteria madness in a social media age? Check. Was this a satire pointing out the illusion of privacy when it comes to the internet and social media and internet vigilantes? I’m not so sure about that one. There weren’t enough laughs for this to fit in that general category. There was certainly some dark comedy involved, but it struck me as a drama and thriller with a sprinkling of horror instead. It’s not exactly The Purge (2013), but my wager is that this was heavily influenced by it.

Regardless of the questionable moral compass of some of the teens involved in the story, there’s even a case for feminism woven through the whole plot, as well as LGBTQ+ awareness.

There is seriously a lot packed into this nearly 2-hour movie. Even so, I barely noticed the passage of time.

I’m fairly convinced that the story’s setting of a town named Salem points to a modern retelling of the craziness that happened during the Salem Witch Trials of the late 1600s. There were more than 4 girls at the heart of that insanity, but the general idea is well represented here.

I felt the end was fitting.

All told, this was a rather bold film by writer/director Sam Levinson. I wouldn’t mind giving this one a recommendation for any unphased by the afore-mentioned caution about triggers.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 73%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 54%
Metascore – 56/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.3/10
IMDB Score – 5.9/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3.5/5

Movie Trailer:

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