Plotting the transformation of four high-school girls into tooled-up avengers with energy and style, Sam Levinson’s broad-brush provocation opens with a volley of trigger warnings about its “graphic” content. But it’s fair warning to add that his #TimesUpsploitation pic also includes an often thudding tendency to mistake well-catalogued hot topics for incisive satire, and catch-all pastiche for pulp subversion.
Though Levinson lacks the edge of influences like Heathers or Fight Club, he boasts four on-point leads (Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Abra, and stand-out trans star Hari Nef) as high-schoolers struggling with their real/online lives in (warning: witch-hunt metaphor incoming) Salem. When a mystery hacker spills townsfolk’s secrets online, the framing of Young’s Lily sparks girls-v-boys war and another messy battle: the one between Levinson’s strengths and flaws.
There’s cathartic pleasure to be had from the women’s Spring Break-ish revenge march, but there’s little suspense or complexity in the clear-cut battle lines. One final warning: it contains Purge-masked dude-bros shouting “bitch!” A lot. Kevin Harley
State of the Nation? Muddled. Levinson’s satiri-shocker boasts fine style and a strong cast, but its aim is wide.
They’d been too busy locking and loading to ensure they avoided wearing the same coat…