Directed by Sam Levinson (The Wizard of Lies and Another Happy Day – in which he won a Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for), Assassination Nation tells the story of an anonymous hacker who leaks the personal information of the residents Salem.
The sneaky hacker posts files (text messages, emails, photos, internet history) online for the prying eyes of the town to see – and name and shame. Consequently, chaos erupts in the town and four friends must fight for their lives to survive the night.
Assassination Nation maintained a good pace throughout, with Lily (the lead actress played by Odessa Young) narrating every so often – she lets us know at the start that her town has ‘lost its mind’.
There were many scenes at the beginning of the film which gave some nice character development of the girls’ relationships with their boyfriends – linking nicely to the later scenes in the film. Cleverly during such scenes, the use of a split screen narrative – split into thirds – effectively portrayed the relationships all at once and how they’re both very different but very similar.
The good bits
As the hacking commences, the town literally loses their minds (there are a lot of headshots). It gradually builds up to intense violence and gore with use of tracking shots from the point of view of an intruder – making it pretty creepy.
Levinson’s inspirations for Assassination Nation are evident throughout. Imagine The Purge mixed with Charlie’s Angels and Kill Bill – Lily is very much like The Bride out for revenge. And after being called a ‘slut’ by every male ever, pay-back is just around the corner – literally! Her and her four friends: Sarah, Em and Bex (Suki Waterhouse and debut roles for Abra and Hari Nef) must stick together more than ever, but the feminist themes often feel contrived.
It did make me think: if we’re seeing everyone in the town losing it, why are they still downloading the leaked content? But this goes to show how it’s all-too-tempting to pry on the lives of others as we’re in a world of data harvesting, Instagram, cam girls and Snapchat.
The bad bits
Throughout the film, there are many montage scenes which make for a confusing watch at times. But it was a quick and easy way to show the extreme lengths people would go to protect their privacy. At points it felt like it lost its way, venturing into vapid nonsense, but it picked itself up near the three-quarter mark and managed to hold itself together reasonably well.
I really enjoyed the soundtrack as the tongue-in-cheek techno/rock/rap music complemented the slick, glossy, stylish ‘Purge-esque’ scenes. Loved the marching band Miley track.
I’d give Assassination Nation 3 out of 5 flicks. I was entertained throughout and if you’re looking for a chilled weekend in and don’t want anything too strenuous, I’d recommend it.