AS­SAS­SI­NA­TION NA­TION

Hacked off…

Total Film - - Big Screen -

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

THE VER­DICT

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…

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