Assassination Nation ★★½

ATL Inspiration Marathon - Part 43

Just five days before I published my first ATL storyline, The Social Media Killer, this movie came out and nearly wrecked me. Hollywood had beaten me to the punch with a story about a vigilante hacker exposing people's secrets and sending the local area into chaos?! It concerned me a whole lot when I first heard about the movie from Sundance, but then when the movie came out in theaters and my worst fears were.... not actually confirmed, thanks to the movie being a big flop. I mostly forgot it even existed until I saw it on Amazon Prime JP and decided to check out just how it stacks up with my work.

And, well... the first act is quite similar in tone and content. It covers a lot of the same ground and even handles a scene pretty similarly with someone getting their secrets outed in the middle of public. It's to the point that if I had made my story's protagonist a teenager in high school, it'd have been like 50, 60% the same film.

Then the second act kicks in and the movie veers in a completely different direction. I heaved a sigh of relief to see it descend into Purge-but-directed-by-Hiro-Murai madness. I was relieved... then realized I was very sad because the movie started getting worse and worse.

For how I eventually came to feel about this movie, there's just SO MUCH GODO in here. The cinematography is self-indulgent over-the-top silliness, constantly aiming for these Big Important Shots and gimmicky oners with neon lighting and 80s slasher smoky streets. The main character has got some depth to her, and while the side characters are mostly two-dimensional, the protagonist herself is caught in a huge dilemma that's gripping even aside from the nefarious hacker. There's even a transgender main character in this movie! Wow! And her existence is plot important and treated with sensitivity, rather than just being a token. There's lots of bloody violence, lots of good colors, and lots of good tunes.

In fact, pretty early on there is an amazing, fantastic split-screen scene at a teen party, filled with all this color-coded lighting and showing all the main characters doing their own thing. The screens shift in tune with the music and the mood and it's one of the coolest things I've seen in a movie in a while.

But then... I didn't like it???

What's going on to make Assassination Nation fall flat for me? Maybe it's that the movie falls apart in the climax and any of its themes become boiled down to a Girl Power Rampage. Maybe it's that the movie is simply too mean-spirited for me to really enjoy. Maybe it's that the over-indulgent cinematography stops being cheeky and fun and becomes a little too excessive even for my taste. Maybe it's the quite awful ending that feels like it was written by a 60 year old.

In all, I think my thoughts on this movie can be summed up as: It's a darn fine bloody slasher-thriller, but trying to dress itself up as something deeper with more to say... really didn't work as well as they wanted.

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