Plus Frustration And Intellectual Masturbation
Lily (Odessa Young) is 18 and carrying on an affair with her 42-year-old neighbor (Joel McHale) unbeknownst to her boyfriend and clique of wise-cracking, way too-cool-to-be-teen girlfriends who all spout dialogue the way an older man thinks uber-feminist Gen Z kids sound. Meanwhile, there’s a hacker running roughshod through their town, exposing the private lives of public figures because we’ve all grown accustomed to keeping our secret nudes and sexts in the cloud.
ASSASSINATION NATION ★★ (2/5 stars)
Directed by: Sam Levinson
Written by: Sam Levinson
Starring: Odessa Young, Hari Nef, Suki Waterhouse, Abra
Running time: 110 min.
Eventually, the hacks start exposing high schoolers and the social order dissolves. It’s chaos. The head cheerleader takes a baseball bat to the noggin. Fight Club-style beatings happen in the halls. And, for some reason, transphobes take this as open season for hate crimes.
Lily’s clique seems totally OK with all of this from a voyeuristic standpoint until Lily gets accused of being the hacker and becomes the target of a witch hunt. Then it’s time for these mild-mannered teen girls to brandish… assault rifles? Is it really worth whatever social commentary this film thinks it’s making to glorify that imagery right now?
Assassination Nation wants to be revelatory like Kids was back in 1995. It wants to say something about the patriarchy’s impossible position it puts young American women in when it comes to their outward sexuality. And it does, but it’s all lost in a mess of fourth-wall breaking, reliance on lingo, and ‘shock’ moments that are only going to shock the casual moviegoer, if even that.
None of this will make anyone who grew up on Snapchat and Instagram look up from their phone, and the tongue-in-cheek ‘trigger warning’ that starts the film might actually cause the target audience to check out from the jump.
My only hope is that when it comes time for my reckoning, my best friends and I also all happen to be wearing matching vinyl raincoats for no reason so we’ll at least look cool while we help society crumble around us. Or at least we’ll look cool to director Sam Levinson.
If I have to say something nice about this film, it’s that Assassination Nation rhymes, and it looks good in that typeface they overused in the trailer.