“Assassination Nation” stars Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Abra, Anika Noni Rose, and Bella Throne. Released on September 21, 2018, the film has a group of friends fighting for survival when a data hack forces a small town to descend into chaos.
The film is directed by Sam Levinson, who also wrote and directed “Another Happy Day” and “The Wizard of Lies”. It’s pretty frustrating when someone posts something embarrassing about you on social media, but when your private stuff gets leaked by a hack attack, there’s a good chance that you’ll blow your top like the Isla Nublar volcano from “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”. This film shows what happens when the latter affects just about everyone. The trailers I’ve seen so far made it appear to be just as messed up as the title itself, but it also looked like it didn’t shy away from exploring the recent problems of teenage life. I went into the film expecting these two qualities to fit well into its storyline, and all I got in return is something that I immediately regret.
In case you haven’t watched the film’s marketing, let’s just say that it has everything an R-rated film has to offer: violence, sex, drugs, language. You know, typical high school teenager stuff. What the film got right most of the time is how it showcases one of the biggest issues of social media besides cyberbullying, which is getting hacked and having your private information exposed online. When a victim gets hacked, all of their personal stuff gets leaked for everyone to see and sooner or later, they will start judging that person negatively based on those leaks. The film also briefly shows a couple of victims of the hack facing the consequences of what they posted in the past. Sam Levinson was a solid choice in making these themes relatable, especially in this day and age where social media can either improve or ruin a person’s life. It’s a film that should’ve gotten a lot of recognition if it wasn’t for the third act where all hell broke loose. To put it in a more mature way, the third act is basically “The Purge”, but without the shock value and the fun. Not only that, but it relied too much on its provocative and violent nature rather than balancing that nature with a thought-provoking story and suitable characters. This alone can make any moviegoer, including me, feel either uncomfortable or frustrating, especially those who are victims of a data hack. The only good things I can say about this film are that it was stylishly directed by Levinson in terms of the camera angles and the performances from the cast were pretty decent. Odessa Young made a solid first impression for me as Lily Colson, one of the victims of the social media hack. She cleverly portrayed Lily like she’s an actual person even though her character was far from memorable.
Overall, the social themes in “Assassination Nation” are well-intentioned, but its attempt at making itself provocative, inspired, and fun bit off more than it can chew. Despite its style and the cast, the film reluctantly throws away the emotional depth and the compelling characters in favor of displaying a bunch of idiotic people berating or killing one another. I completely understand that you like this film better than I did, but in this day and age where people use the internet to harm others and expose their private information just for the sake of “getting some laughs”, this is something that I don’t need right now. If you still want to see it, you’re better off watching it on television. However, I would not recommend it to those who have dealt with this type of problem before or is dealing with it now. Trust me, this film will not make them feel better.