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Movie Reviews: Bushwick

Fight through New York in with Bushwick. Image used from zimbio.com

Eight years ago after the inauguration of President Barack Obama, Former Texas Governor Rick Perry made a threat: If Obama won his reelection Texas would secede from the United States. With that threat in mind writer Nick Damici wrote the screenplay for Bushwick, a what if film about what would happen if the south rose up once again. With the timing of the release of this film is it a politically significant piece or should it have been left on the shelf for a few more years?

 

The story for Bushwick is one that’s greatly hindered by it’s limitations. The story follows Lucy, a young woman who is left alone in Bushwick during a military attack. She finds herself in the company of Stupe, a former Marine, and the two must rely on each other to survive the onslaught. The story mainly focuses on Lucy and Stupe running through Bushwick, avoiding the enemy soldiers and fighting them off if necessary. And unfortunately that’s all there is to the story. There are some genuinely interesting ideas and just a dash of political and social commentary in the film, especially early on when a radio pundit states that the Republican party cheated there way to power (a statement which is painfully truer now then when thos film was made) causing the uprising, as well as the backstories of our two main characters. However, the film had a very limited budget and only two weeks to shoot. As such it can only focus on Lucy and Stupe rather then branching out and seeing how the rest of the neighborhood is dealing with the invasion. It certainly would have helped with the film’s social commentary immensely. The small budget also shows which denies the film any kind of grandiose. But the film does something clever with it’s techniques. Every single scene is shot in a single take which does help the focus on Lucy and Stupe as it gives the illusion that we are there alongside the two characters. The actions of the characters feel very real and the film cleverly uses sleight of hand with it’s gore effects. The use of sound is also well done as the sounds of battle, gunfire and screaming is constantly used as the soundtrack, giving the impression of a destructive war going on. This causes the film to feel very tense, though mostly in the first act, and makes a film that is rather gripping and fast paced. Despite being clever and surprisingly engaging the film has a major problem with it’s tone. It’s clear that Bushwick is a product of it’s time and that time is 2015. What would should have been a hopeful film is instead grim and unnerving. It’s a film that was meant to scare with the idea of “could this ever happen?” but thanks to the timing of it’s release it effectively scares with “This has a chance of happening” and that hurts the film greatly.

 

The characters for Bushwick are more of a mix

 

Lucy is a decent but not very engaging character. She’s a very relatable character in how she reacts and deals with the invasion. She even develops quite well as the film progresses. But she is rather irksome during the first act which does give a bad first impression.

 

Stupe is an interesting character. From his introduction he is shown to be a stoic and self reliant character, though one that grows to appreciate the help and friendship of Lucy. He does have a pretty good backstory that makes for a very fine moment in the film though considering the film’s New York City audience it can come off as rather exploitative.

 

Belinda is just an obnoxious character. She does have some good moments of humor as well as some decent character development towards the third act but she is a slow character to grow and is initially a drag on the film’s pacing.

 

The antagonists of the film are pretty well made. The film makes the odd decision to only reveal that the invaders are from Red States forty five minutes into the film as if it’s some shocking reveal. It isn’t that was the main advertising campaign for the whole movie. Otherwsie they were good villains. They were hardly ever seen and every inch of them is covered. This adds to the intimidation of the villains as you don’t know where they are or what they’re doing and by concealing them it robs them of their humanity which makes them rather monstrous. As if Right wing, psychopathic racists with no moral compass wasn’t scary enough.

 

The acting for Bushwick is done well

 

Dave Bautista does a fantastic job as Stupe. He’s a strong and commanding lead who makes every single moment work. He shows great versatility and dynamic as an actor, being a good but typical action star one moment and giving a very moving performance the next.

 

Brittany Snow is fine as Lucy. Snow is very believable in her role especially in the first twenty minutes where she has to frightfully react to what’s happening around her non-stop. She works well with Bautista, having good chemistry with him and not really ever being overshadowed by his performance.

 

Angelic Zambrana does well as Belinda. Though her character can be annoying at times Zambrana delivers her lines quite nicely, even hitting her more comedic and sarcastic lines very well. She is slightly forgettable in comparison to Bautista and Snow but that’s only because the focus is on them not her.

 

Final Thoughts: Bushwick is flawed film. On one hand it manages to be very tense and exciting despite it’s limitations by using clever camera and editing techniques which really helps the rather weak story. The characters are fine, the acting is pretty good and the villains are scary. In fact many moments of this film are very unnerving and in a normal administration that would have been fine. But in these times a film this frightful and grim is one we don’t need right now. It has some good social commentary but overall it is too effective in what it wants to say which hurts it in the long run. I’d definitely recommend it for it’s technical prowess, acting and brains. Otherwise its too unnerving for the time being.

 

Verdict: 3/5

 

 

About the Author

Good day to you, my name is Jonathan Gonzalez. For years I've loved movies and have been reviewing them for years, ever since I first saw Roger Ebert on Ebert and Roeper during my freshman year of high school for the first time. I am a graduate of Mercy College with a Bachelor's in Journalism and I have Asperger's Syndrome, something I am truly proud of.

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