Are you connected to the internet? Social media? Do you have secrets you shared with someone online? Skeletons that, if they are out of the closet, will make you want to go hide inside one? Or personal information you’d never want to make public? Even if the secret might not be that big, taken out of context, it can blow out of proportion and completely destroy your reputation in days, if not hours.
This is what happens to the people of Salem, Massachusetts in “Assassination Nation.” The city goes berserk when a hacker gets into the phones and computers of almost half the city’s population and publishes their personal secrets online.
In the process, an anti-gay mayoral candidate’s secret as a cross-dresser who hires male escorts starts circulating in the city, completely destroying his career. Then a high school principal is adjudged a pedophile as he has some pictures of his six-year-old daughter taking a bath. Similarly, a lot of personal information about people of Salem circulates on the internet, breaking reputations and causing enmities.
In all of this, high school friends Lily Colson (Odessa Young), Bex Warren (Hari Nef), Em (Abra) and Sarah Lacey (Suki Waterhouse) are the main victims. Not only do they have to cope with the hack among themselves, they also have to survive the angry city mob set out for their blood because they’re blamed for all that’s happening. Basically, the city wants to make them a scapegoat.
Written and directed by Sam Levinson, Assassination Nation is not exactly a fresh release. It originally premiered in theaters in September 2018 but popped up on Netflix’s new releases section only recently. And don’t get fooled by the name. Although it sounds like an outright action/thriller movie, Assassination Nation is actually a dark comedy that assassinates the character of the judgmental folks in our society. The film is a satire on how fragile people’s privacy has become in this modern world because of technology and how vulnerable we have become to internet terrorists.
Stylistically, Assassination Nation is a young film, with most of its story revolving around teenagers and their lives. Using young people, their lifestyles and dialect, the film tackles the issues of bullying, classism, drug use, toxic masculinity, homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism and much more. With its sassy and sophisticated styling, the film exposes the horrors of American society, which at the same time might reflect those of most modern societies the world-around.
Giving a big hand to the film’s storytelling is its cinematography. The 1h 48mins long film is fast paced and changes motifs quickly. Sometimes so quick that some characters do not even get time to establish themselves. There is just too much happening—sex, violence, treachery, camaraderie, drugs and all. The screenplay hence feels rushed at times. But through all the stormy proceedings, Marcell Rév’s cinematography stays coherent.
The cinematography suits the film’s grand design. It strangely lets the audience sit back and enjoy a chaotic grind without struggling to make sense of what’s going on. The camera angles are mostly unorthodox and sometimes extraordinarily brilliant. A few single-take long shots make you wonder how the scenes were perfected.
Who should watch it?
The film, with the daily lives of the generation-z at its center, can definitely be watched by people of all generations. Assassination Nations speaks nothing but the truth. Even with fictional liberties in the making and a few stylistic exaggerations, the film stays true to its subject.
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Dark comedy/Thriller
Director: Sam Levinson
Actors: Odessa Young, Hari Nef, Abra, Suki Waterhouse