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film review
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Abra, Odessa Young, Hari Nef and Suki Waterhouse in Assassination Nation.Courtesy of Elevation

  • Assassination Nation
  • Written and directed by Sam Levinson
  • Starring Odessa Young, Hari Nef, and Joel McHale
  • Classification 18A; 110 minutes


2 out of 4 stars

How much of a kick you might get out of Assassination Nation depends on whether you think the words “trigger warning” count as a punchline or not. Writer-director Sam Levinson (son of Barry, director of Rain Man and Wag the Dog) certainly thinks so, opening his bloody satire with that very caution, and proceeding to tell the audience that his film will contain drug use, toxic masculinity, gore, transphobia, racism and “the male gaze.” At least he’s honest.

Focusing on a small American town named Salem (yep!) that loses its collective mind after a hacker spills everyone’s smartphone-stored secrets, Assassination Nation is a buffet of outrageous offensiveness. But Levinson seems more concerned with simply maintaining a base level of shock than he is with interrogating any societal constructs. As the screen is splattered with viscera, the film adopts a feminist spin that is coarsely at odds with the barely legal bodies on display (we’re reminded several times that the girls at the centre of the story are 18, so it’s all right to leer).

Levinson displays some impressive technical chops – most of which can be traced back to Joseph Kahn, but never mind – and there’s one standout home-invasion sequence toward the end. But some trigger warnings are best heeded.

Assassination Nation opens Sept. 21

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