Imagine what would happen if a state like Texas decided to separate from the United States and invade other states in an effort to gain control of the country? This is the idea that Bushwick plays with. The plot revolves around a Brooklyn, NY neighborhood that is being overtaken by the Texas military. Brittany Snow and Dave Bautista star as Lucy and Stupe, a couple of strangers that are brought together to help each other survive the invasion.
This is the kind of movie that stands out immediately, due to the unique concept. Bushwick paints a “what if” scenario of a modern day U.S. Civil War, a concept that hasn’t often been tackled on-screen. It’s intriguing from the moment it starts as the chaos erupts within the first moments. In the opening scene Lucy gets out of the subway to discover her town in turmoil. From that point forward the destruction does not stop. Stupe is the man she soon encounters that helps her navigate and stay alive.
While the chaos doesn’t let up, surprisingly there are a few long moments of lull in the film. Whenever Lucy and Stupe are in hiding, there is this odd aura of calm and borderline boredom that overcomes the story. It’s as if it’s taking place in real time and for a movie that is pushing constant action in the background, the calm felt out of place and drawn out.
On the other hand, whenever the characters are out of their short-term safety nest, the action is spiked to extreme levels. The sounds are amped up to the point of making you lower your volume. The good thing about it is that it becomes visceral, placing you dead center in the middle of the drama and out of the comfort of your homes.
Visually the movie pops. Literally. Flares, explosions, smoke, gunshots. It all looks legitimate and doesn’t look like someone just added a bunch of CGI in post-production. This is the kind of movie that could have easily confused unaware locals that something bad was actually happening in their neighborhood and not just a movie being filmed. That sort of visual and audio authenticity is what makes this movie stand out.
At first glance the pairing of Bautista and Snow doesn’t look like it would mesh on paper, but on-screen it proves to be a perfect fit. When you think of Snow, a movie such as Pitch Perfect comes to mind. When you think of Bautista, WWE wrestler and Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy come to mind. In Bushwick those perceptions are quickly erased as they both blend into the story as regular, everyday civilians.
One particular scene stands out, when Lucy and Stupe are alone in a laundromat and a heartfelt, intimate moment takes place between the characters that Bautista ends up nailing. It’s in this scene where the essence of the movie transforms completely. It’s also a defining cinematic moment in Bautista’s career where his acting shines. Additionally, Angelic Zambrana changes the pace and lightens the mood of the movie, playing Lucy’s wacky and outspoken sister.
There is no question this film is a blood bath. It’s as much of a horror movie as it is an action adventure. It preaches survival of the fittest, with the combination of brutality and high-level intensity. While watching Bushwick, movies such as 28 Days Later and The Purge come to mind, in part due to the isolated terror it portrays.
Bushwick has its ebbs and flows throughout, incorporating the slow moments of lull with the frantic ones of chaotic unrest. This is a gruesome and unapologetic film that knows its identity and rides it from start to finish. The destination is set early. The plot doesn’t deviate from its suggested message. Chaos and destruction reign supreme. At times the action is cringeworthy, but oddly satisfactory in the grand scheme, as you have to expect it to happen or else the movie isn’t telling a proper story. As doubts crept over the final destination of the story, the filmmakers remain true to the concept and leave you with the most compelling bleak outcome you can get.
You can follow me on Twitter @TheJim Alexander
For more on Bushwick, you can check out my interview with Angelic Zambrana