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Bushwick (Sundance London 2017 Review)

Bushwick, directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, is a fairly ridiculous, yet simultaneously rather dull action-thriller with a side order of limp social commentary.

Lucy (Brittany Snow) and war veteran Stupe (Dave Bautista) find themselves in a middle of a military invasion of Brooklyn and must depend on each other to survive. It’s later revealed that a number of southern states, including Texas, are trying to secede from the USA and that the attack on New York City was intended to be used as some kind of leverage. The reason it all goes wrong, a captured soldier tells Lucy and Stupe, is that the invading militia force didn’t expect any resistance from the locals – because, you see, firearm possession is illegal.

Yeah.

Bushwick tries to look like it’s mostly one long take with continuous camera movement √† la Birdman and that stylistic ambition is admirable, even if the movie isn’t all that good at keeping the pretense. A fun game to play while watching Bushwick is to try and keep track of all the sudden extreme close-ups of stairs, walls, light sources or dark areas that poorly mask cuts and transitions. Every once in a while the movie just kind of gives up and puts in an actual cut, which ends up being somewhat jarring.

Dave Bautista has the audacity to give an actual, honest-to-God performance, doing his best to wrangle whatever emotion he can out of the thinly-written Stupe, which is more than can be said for everyone else on the cast. A few other performances occasionally dip into unintentionally hilarious territory, but otherwise they’re all¬†pretty unremarkable.

Stupe gets a nasty leg injury at one point and Lucy gets her finger blown off later on, which leads to scenes of them treating their wounds. Gruesome close-ups and swearing let us know that this is a serious adult moment in a seriously adult movie.

Bushwick withholds the reason behind the invasion of Brooklyn for so long that it almost seems like there won’t be an explanation. The revelation comes in so late and is so thin and ridiculous that it can’t be anything else but laughable. There was nothing in the plot that might have indicated or foreshadowed the motivation of the invaders. It’s just guys in tactical gear running around shooting people for close to an hour and then Stupe interrogates one of them to get the necessary exposition. It’s clunky as hell.

The soundtrack, courtesy of Aesop Rock, is memorable at times even though it doesn’t necessarily fit the war-zone vibe that Bushwick is trying to go for. To that end, some pretty bad special effect fires can also take you out of the movie or get a chuckle at the wrong moment.

Overall, Bushick manages to be somewhat engaging in the moment, but is mostly forgettable and uninteresting.

Rating
4.0
Pros
  • Stylistically ambitious, even if it can't quite back it up
  • Entertainingly bad at times
  • Dave Bautista gives a better performance than the movie deserves
Cons
  • Ridiculous, yet forgettable
  • Mostly wooden acting
  • Dave Bautista gives a better performance than the movie deserves

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