Assassination Nation (2018)

I was really looking forward to this. It looked like a slick, sleek, violent piece of film-making with a social message. Yeah, that didn’t pan out for me. For one thing, it’s INCREDIBLY slow. It takes about 45 minutes to get going. There’s some setting up the plot, but waaaaay too much, a lot of it is unnecessary. There’s plot points in the opening where bad things happen to people, who then aren’t really referenced again. Really, most of the opening hour could have been condensed into about 15 minutes. The closing section is good though; chaotic, inspiring, and so slick it’s brilliant. It just doesn’t match the rest of the film, the entire film is building up to that section, and it’s that section which has been heavily focused on in the advertising.

I think it’s not helped by the directing. You know how Zack Snyder films are often shot like comic books, with no thought to shot construction and film language? This is similar,  it’s shot like a music video, and not in a good way. It does the “turn the camera upside down as a character walks away” shot a bit too often, and at moments where it doesn’t really work. There are also waaaay too many montages which don’t really add anything. Most of them are just “here’s people” and that’s it. There are also weird editing choices where they cut between scenes in a really jarring manner, where holding on certain characters would have worked better. And an oddly high amount of split screen between characters which don’t really work and are WAY too music video to admire.

The film doesn’t even have anything important to say about humanity, all it seems to say is “people can be dicks”. That’s it. Nothing more than that. Now onto the characters. They don’t really have much definition, they’re incredibly similar, which considering all the build up they had isn’t a good sign. Most of the characters are incredibly 2-dimensional. I mean, for a group of teenage girls to include a trans character is great to see though (even more so when they’re played by an actual trans person), and that does lead to a weirdly progressive moment where a group of jock assholes attempt to lynch the character, and they shout out “string her up”. They correctly gendered her! So if you don’t do that, you’re now worse than someone who lynches people. I never thought “they yelled the correct thing when preparing to lynch someone, yay” would be something I would say, but here we are.

I do have to say though; the closing section is superb. It’s violent and vengeful and fun. It looks fantastic and it’s incredibly cathartic. I just really wish the rest of the film matched it. It just feels a bit….unpolished. The trigger warning montage at the start is pretty genius though it has to be said. Like I said, it has great ideas, just doesn’t seem like it knows what to do with them.

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