Assassination Nation Review

Informing people about a problem in advance so they can prepare for an impending inconvenience is not only thoughtful planning, it’s a pretty important common curtesy in today’s hectic world.

For this we ought to be grateful to the Department of Exiting the EU for allowing us all sufficient opportunity to stockpile medicines, tinned food and other day to day essentials. Just as importantly it will afford me time to take back control of my independent British wardrobe. This will now be available for all to purchase in approximately six months. Just before all of the chlorine rinsed and genetically modified frozen chickens are inexplicably driven by a desire to fly off supermarket shelves and cook themselves in the engines of confused Boeing 737’s flying some 20,000 ft over Dover.

For those interested in a forty-something father of two’s interpretation of hi-fashion for the post-apocalyptic dystopian endgame of Conservative backbench harmony; I will mainly be going with comfortable slacks paired with a suitable shirt (plaid also acceptable) matched with a sweater. My guess is that the hastily cobbled together cardboard and gaffer tape shelter I fabricate will probably let in a slight draft.

It is reassuring that with this spirit of forward planning and co-operation, strident Brexiteer cum Hollywood filmmaker Sam Levinson has decided to forewarn those of a queasy disposition of some potentially difficult content in the title sequences of his splendidly wild second feature, Assassination Nation.

Viewers are signposted with consideration towards scenes of ‘SEXISM’, ‘TOXIC MASCUALINITY’, ‘TRANSPHOBIA’, ‘MYSOGONY’ and ‘FRAGILE MALE EGO’S’, not so much in the spirit of informing the public, but perhaps with the intention of filtering in the easily triggered types who love to feign horror at the thought of anything controversial. All publicity is good publicity of course.

In Salem, Massachusetts we join Lily and her group of mean girls sashaying their way around the social media pitfalls pockmarking modern teenage life.

The joint has been overrun with a sense of anarchy following a series of scandals involving hi-profile officials that appear to be the handy work of the same, mystery hacker.

First an ultra-conservative mayor running for re-election on a campaign of good old-fashioned family values goes viral in a series of unconventional images filmed whilst staying resolutely within the safe environs of his warm closet. In the ensuing campaign husting he addresses the outcry not with a show of remorse, but by instead turning his mayoral gun on himself.

The local high school principle is then forced to publicly defend himself from what just falls short of an angry mob after intimate and candid portraits of his children are leaked online.

The hacker then turns their attention to the school’s pupils. Lily, played by Odessa Young, is in a dysfunctional relationship with her married next-door neighbour which becomes public knowledge after explicit footage is shared amongst the now rabid town community.

An acquaintance of the gang’s personal information is then shared, with her best friend falsely accused. Violent retribution of the baseball bat administered by a cheerleader kind is exacted.

From here the action descends into pure gory horror movie chaos, and soon it’s the girls who are being implicated. A second Salem witch-hunt is enacted, carried out by kangaroo court assailants

and would be executioners masked like the social media keyboard warriors pushing their male victim agenda across the internet.

Explosive from the outset; Assassination Nation keeps up a relentless pace as it shines a light onto the corporate monster of social media and its failure to condemn the rise of online male misogyny and bigotry, all too rife in this #metoo era.

The movie points an almighty satirical scatter gun and delivers its maniacal payload into the bloated orange face of the Trump administration.

Odessa Young as Lily and Hari Nef as her friend Bex are both excellent in lead roles and the supporting cast are all solid.

Levinson’s script is littered with snappy and aware one-liners and the dialogue between the teenage protagonists appeared authentic enough to this maturing observer. The marching band sequence over the closing credits is splendidly realised and anarchic.

Whilst this will clearly not be for some, Assassination Nation is a provocative and exhilarating film, packed with chutzpah and destined to become a cult classic antidote to the contemporary established order.

Frank Gardiner

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Dates ‘n stuff

November 2018