Assassination Nation will be someone’s favourite movie and I fear the day I meet them.
It’s a film that sets itself up to be another Spring Breakers (itself very divisive but personally a solid flick) and then slowly then suddenly falls into the realm of unlikable celluloid.
All in your face and with the subtlety of a sledgehammer to a watermelon, Assassination Nation evokes groans and eye-rolls after the initial effective half hour (less if you don’t buy into this online witch hunt being set in Salem from the get-go)
For all it’s risky filmmaking choices and interesting editing and cinematography, Assassination Nation dulls on you the moment shit hits the fan. A place where you realise all in that moment that none of these characters are likeable or interesting enough to get you to care.
It feels like you’ve taken Mean Girls or Heathers or some other more interesting high school movie and thought you could make it more edgy.
The film screams with the voice of a teenager who has been on the internet once and has seen a cavalcade of issues in the world and just copy/pasted them into a first draft that was then immediately filmed. And with the references to hacking, it feels like it was written five years ago.
Assassination Nation reeks of being the first film a young filmmaker would of made, right down to the snide reference to Fight Club and the most basic cinephile and self-aware references aping someone who’s favourite director is Tarantino and just Tarantino.
Which makes it all the surprising that this film is written and directed by Sean Levinson - son of Barry Levinson - but also...it makes all the sense in the world.
The pure putrid world he has created full of wannabe risky filmmaking by way of The Purge if only we followed the uninteresting background actors digging the hell out of The Purge, starring four teen female leads with nothing to say except the bargain basement discussion found reblogged through Tumblr, feels exactly like something written by a middle aged white man. There’s just something about the borderline exploitation of Assassination Nation that feels like it intends to be so cool and so edgy instead fills you with eye-rolls and a lack of empathy.
Some people are going to really love this movie, and those people definitely have just begun their journey into film. That isn’t the stance of film snobbery here, it’s more the stance that when you take a step back and when you grow a little, you realise just how standard and uninteresting Assassination Nation is, full of unintentional parody and utter dullness, where everyone is a cartoon but it doesn’t make any good commentary because it’s literally what’s happening in the world but no additional layers.
Extremely harsh against women and just entirely scummy, Assassination Nation doesn’t have a lot to redeem itself. You’d have more fun reading a teenager’s Twitter feed while watching a Refn or Noé movie full of neon and actual interesting and deep filmmaking and theming.
I just really didn’t like Assassination Nation, people. It’s everything I dislike about indie cinema when it goes wrong made by filmmakers inspired by much better filmmakers and not inspired enough by stories they want to tell and rather thinking the stupid message of stupid America is enough.
And also it gives Jeff Winger from Community an alternative outcome for his relationship with Annie with none of the psychological journey. I’d much rather be watching that show instead of this.
But then again I could say that about any film.