By Juan Calvillo
“Assassination Nation” is social commentary movie cleverly disguised as over-the-top violence and tongue-in-cheek criticism of the internet as a whole. “Assassination Nation” is full of potential triggers. Everything from violence to discrimination is on display. Its use is anything but subtle.
Because of this, the actual storyline of the movie can draw parallels not only to a person’s life, but to the state of American culture as a whole.
The premise of“Assassination Nation” is simple. It uses the backdrop of a high school in the city of Salem, Mass. as a way to be inclusive to the many issues plaguing society as a whole. The four main leads do well in their roles, but Odessa Young as Lily and Hari Nef as Bex are the standouts. Their characters go through the most harrowing and intense moments in the film.
Each of the characters deal with an aspect that could potentially be an audience members current situation. In doing so, “Assassination Nation” makes the movie not only about culture in general, but also about how each character deals, or doesn’t, with the obstacles life and society throws their way.
One of the more entertaining aspects of the movie is how it uses a soundtrack of amazing music, almost to the point of making certain moments seem like the music is a theme song for specific characters.
It’s a charming nod to the way the movie tries to mix both surreal and more grounded elements.
The match that lights this tinderbox of a town into a full-fledged war zone is an anonymous person hacking into half of the cities data. This causes secrets to be exposed and people to be immediately brought before the court of public opinion.
Here, “Assassination Nation” connects not only social media with everyday people but also subtly shows how the internet, through social media, has fostered a culture of people lacking empathy.
At one point, the character of Lily takes her group of friends to task by saying that despite the horrible things that someone might or might not have done, one can still have empathy toward their situation.
Bex on the other hand, defies the idea of having empathy by noting that the same individual wouldn’t have sympathy for her, so why should she have that level of concern.
This example despite being petty is how many people tend to think because of how callous individuals and entire groups have become over the years.
The movie culminates in an all-out war within the confines of Salem. “Assassination Nation” spared no expense in bringing the heightened sense of dread and violence in these scenes.
Interestingly, the idea of merging both real real-world situations with the more surreal aspects of movies can be seen here, with an entire town suddenly becoming total professionals with all types of firearms.
To achieve the total-war idea, the movie uses the act of society passing judgment on a particular person without verifying the truthfulness of information, almost reminding the audience how easy falling prey to misinformation or “fake news” has become.
By accusing a citizen of Salem as the perpetrator of the hacking, the entire town erupts into an almost mob-like way.
This culminates with the group having to overcome horrible circumstances just to survive. “Assassination Nation” once again drawing parallels to movie-like situations.
As a whole, the movie works as both entertaining and message-driven. While the ending felt flat and unreasonable, it might have been the only way for a movie like this to end.
In its last words, “Assassination Nation” gave a scathing commentary on our society’s greatest flaw, the simple lack of caring and empathy.
“Assassination Nation” is in theaters now. It is rated R for disturbing bloody violence, strong sexual material including menace and pervasive language, and for drug and alcohol use involving teens.