Directed by Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott, Bushwick contains an interesting premise: A second US civil war carried out by a Texan military force against civilians to coerce the government to allow Texas and other Southern and Midwestern states to be independent entities. They have attacked Bushwick, Brooklyn, to round up hostages, but were not counting on the populace fighting back, and so have ordered soldiers to shoot to kill.
Watching a young couple walk calmly along a New York City subway platform, like a reworked scene from When Harry Met Sally, all seems normal, except they are the only ones in the station. Then, explosively, the action begins with the appearance of a man encased in fire, followed by the girl’s boyfriend being blown to smithereens.
As a suspense thriller Bushwick is effective, gripping and original in its thesis, but the plot is not only weak, it seems as if the filmmakers didn’t know what to do to wrap it up so they basically semi-obliterated the point of the film. At first there is a premise and a goal: American soldiers are attacking their own civilians, the people are fighting back, and a way exists for everyone to escape; our heroes, Lucy (Brittany Snow) and Stupe (David Bautista), go through hell to valiantly battle every manner of bad guy; and then the narrative suddenly fizzles out.
There appears to be a nihilistic, contrarian trend in movies these days of creating a plot build-up and then dropping the viewer’s hopes and expectations like a ton of bricks in an anti-climax of uselessness and despair, as if to say, no matter what you do, it’s pointless. Perhaps this technique has a purpose or filmmakers simply run out of ideas, but it is frustrating for the audience to become engrossed in a movie that lets them down at the end. A tragic ending is fine if there is a logical, consequential reason for it. But just “oops, oh well never mind” is groping in the dark and going nowhere.
Bushwick does provide a new, intriguing perspective on the idea of urban warfare, the actors are effective – main characters Snow and Bautista are faultless performers – and the action scenes are well coordinated and thrilling; but without a substantial storyline and well developed characters we more-or-less have a lot of shooting, screaming, running and killing.
Bushwick does not have a UK release date yet.
For further information about Sundance London 2017 visit here.
Read more reviews from the festival here.
Watch a clip from Bushwick here:
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