Reel Reviews: Killing it — in different ways

By on September 26, 2018

‘Assassination Nation’

Every once in a while, a movie comes along that unabashedly says and does whatever the heck it wants. Along these lines I think of movies like “A Clockwork Orange,” “Mother!” and even “The Breakfast Club.” The latter is detailed snapshot of the lives of ‘80s teens; the classic created personifications of a greater whole of individuals we could all connect with.

I could not connect with or even relate to the characters in “Assassination Nation.” My disconnect is the problem this movie wants the viewer to come to grips with.

Lily (Odessa Young, “The Daughter”) and her high school friends Bex (Hari Nef), Sarah (Suki Waterhouse) and Em (Abra — first name only) are overdramatizations (or are they?) of today’s teens. Their small town of Salem “loses its mind” when the secrets of its inhabitants are hacked and uploaded for all to see. Lily becomes the scapegoat and her clique is hunted down by a bloodthirsty mob. In a nutshell, this witch-hunt is the story of “Assassination Nation,” but it’ so much more.

It is too simple to just write this movie off as a blood and lust grab for cash. There is too much going on. There are too many issues presented, which most of our current society has problems relating to, understanding, or accepting.

Not verbatim, but at one point Lily cautions, “Don’t blame me for this world. I just got here.”

For me, it was an alarming epiphany. I’d never thought about this younger generation in those terms.

I’m almost hesitant to write about “Assassination Nation” because I don’t feel I gathered the entire weight of what is going on with this film by viewing it once. While thrown wildly into the world of kids stuck to their devices, viewers are forced to examine — at a rapid pace — the role of sex, drug use, #metoo, bigotry, fear, communication and misunderstanding (the list of thought-provoking references could go on and on) in the lives of modern teens.

If you are ready to throw out your bias, chuck your preconceptions in the bin, and get smacked in the face with a reality gone wrong — one that may be all too true — go see “Assassination Nation.” I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Reviewer Michael Upton had an epiphany when watching “Assassination Nation.” He said, “If you are ready to throw out your bias, chuck your preconceptions in the bin, and get smacked in the face with a reality gone wrong, go see ‘Assassination Nation’.”

‘The Predator’

Hey, look! It’s a shlocky franchise reboot. No, really, that is exactly what “The Predator” is.

Plot: It is many years after the first intergalactic hunter fell to Earth and a new Predator has come calling. This time the people-stabbing space demon may be trying to help us in some evolutionary plan.

Our new hero is Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), a special forces warrior who teams up with a band of misfits to save his family and the world from the Predator.

For those expecting a John McTiernan/Schwarzenegger action fest like the original, I’m sorry to report this is not the case. Instead, viewers are treated to a more comedic look at the alien vs. humanity story, especially with “The Predator” cast including comedian Keegan-Michael Key. Fans of the TV show “This is Us” may be deeply disappointed by the role portrayed by Sterling K. Brown.

Whatever you do, don’t take this movie seriously. You aren’t meant to, and it will only deeply depress your already downtrodden experience. Stay tuned, after two weeks “The Predator” is not making much of an impact at the box office, but it is surely set up for a sequel — or, will the next film be the fifthquel? Ugh.

Agree or disagree? Reel Reviews works like this: 1) Watch a movie; 2) Send suggestions, comments and criticism to Michael at

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