Movie Review: Assassination Nation

By Emily DiAlbert, Copy Editor
[Neon; 2018]
Rating: 5/10

Have you ever thought about what would happen if someone combined the plotline of Mean Girls with that of The Purge? No? Well, if you did, Assassination Nation would be the two films’ love child, and yes, it’s just as crazy as you think it would be.

Read More: Movie Review: Annihilation

Assassination Nation begins with about a minute’s worth of quickly-listed, but much-needed, trigger warnings and then a monologue delivered by Lily (Odessa Young), the high school-aged main character. As the camera begins to follow a little boy riding a tricycle down a neighborhood street, Lily delivers the line “This is the story of how my town, Salem, lost its fucking mind.” At that moment, the little boy turns toward the camera, and *gasp* he’s wearing an American flag Purge mask. The plot doesn’t improve from there.

Lily’s right. The film is a story (one that’s unbelievable and has several holes) about how a town went fucking crazy because someone hacked the information of every person living there. When the hacker began releasing the information for the public to read, they aired some very dirty laundry, which naturally turned every seemingly-normal person in the town into a murderous sociopath. Some sought revenge against the individuals who they found out majorly wronged them; others sought revenge against the hacker for releasing the information in the first place.

When word got out that the hacker may be Lily, the people in the town became convinced that she would only stop releasing the hacked information when she died. That’s when everyone, including the town’s only cop, came for her blood. Luckily, Lily and her three best friends acquired hoards of assault weapons (which they’d likely never touched a day in their lives) to defend themselves with. If you combine the Mean Girls scene that takes place in the North Shore High School gymnasium after the school goes nuts with the entire plot of The Purge, you will get a rough prediction of how Assassination Nation ends.

Although the plot was riddled with holes and had a poorly-thought-out concept, the film itself is made significantly better because of two things: its cinematography and its casting. The film is beautifully shot and edited. At one point, the camera is flipped upside down as it pans a room, only to flip right-side-up when the action begins, building an immense amount of suspense (plus, it looks sick!). At another point, the film shows a side-by-side of three different shots of the same scene, which eventually coalesce to give you a bigger picture of what’s occurring (once again, sick!). Additionally, at a couple points in the film, Lily and her friends (two of whom are played by models Hari Nef and Suki Waterhouse) do runway walks together. Naturally, those generate an immense amount of powerfully-feminine energy, and you just want to scream “Yes, bitches!” because of it.

Nevertheless, when you combine the Purge-meets-Mean-Girls hole-filled plot of the film with its great elements, you’re left with one word: Eh. Assassination Nation wasn’t good, but it wasn’t bad either. Perhaps if the plot had been developed to be far-less laughable at most points, it could have been great. It certainly had the potential to be. Still, it deserves praise for the things it did well, even though the pros definitely don’t outweigh the cons.

Watch the trailer here:

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