A pervasively annoying endeavor, Assassination Nation follows four vapid friends (Odessa Young’s Lily, Hari Nef’s Bex, Suki Waterhouse’s Sarah, and Abra’s Em) as they’re targeted by an entire town after being accused of hacking several prominent figures. It’s clear immediately that filmmaker Sam Levinson has infused Assassination Nation with all the texture and subtlety of a generic music video, as the movie boasts (or suffers from) an extremely slick and aggressively smug feel that’s reflected in its various attributes – with the over-the-top tone established right from the get-go with an eye-rollingly silly “trigger warning” for what’s to come. The decidedly less-than-involving vibe is compounded by Levinson’s emphasis on characters of a uniformly generic nature, and it’s obvious, too, that the movie’s deliberately-paced and frustratingly meandering narrative only perpetuates the misguided, misbegotten atmosphere. And although Levinson does manage to include one or two decent sequences (eg Lily explains to her down-to-earth principal the rationale for drawing a series of x-rated pictures), Assassination Nation‘s terminally unfocused sensibilities ensure that there’s simply never a point at which one has anything invested in the protagonists’ tedious exploits – which ensures that the picture’s bizarre third-act transformation into a Purge knockoff fares even worse than one might’ve feared (and this is to say nothing of the hilariously, unreasonably heavy-handed note on which the movie concludes). The end result is a hopelessly slipshod and mostly atrocious piece of work that fails on virtually every level, with Levinson’s earnest yet wholly wrongheaded efforts at cultivating a “woke” atmosphere contributing heavily to the film’s status as a massive trainwreck.
1/2* out of ****