Cast: Dave Bautista, Brittany Snow, Arturo Castro, Christian Navarro, and Jeff Lima
Directors: Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott
94 minutes (15) 2017
Widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Kaleidoscope blu-ray region B
Review by Steven Hampton
In this marginally science fictional movie, for Texas to leave the USA, the rogue state’s militia would attack and invade New York, turning the city into a war zone. The main plot centres on two random strangers forced into defending themselves against overwhelming odds. Cue gunshots in the distance and the war-on-terror imagery of burning towers on a catastrophic skyline.
One of the main trademarks of low-budget movies released on DVD and blu-ray is the complete lack of any subtitle options, as not even English text for viewers with hearing problems are included. That’s the case with this otherwise promising product. Bushwick is an on-the-run actioner comprised of long takes, or an illusion of the same - with many actual cuts disguised by clever editing, in the obvious hope that such documentary styled verisimilitude can add cool veracity to a basically sketchy scenario. This filming technique suggests a rapid narrative but actually slows the pace of storytelling to leisurely stroll, as the mobile camera is required to follow the movie’s stars upstairs, through door-ways to vacant rooms, and jog along down the street after them on set dressed-to-kill locations.
There are familiar battlefield traumas: cauterising wounds, and tending to dying victims, but this quickly becomes a meandering trudge through the humourless clichés of urban apocalypse, with domestic stopovers, hooded soldiers, a mass panic, a helicopter crash, tragedies from stray bullets, and refuge found in a church. Bright lights or smoke screens and murky images from unfocused lenses hide the poverty of this production, despite its modest ambitions. Before the big finale, we get the rather dreary spectacle of ex-wrestler Dave Bautista (Guardians Of The Galaxy) trying to act in his lengthy talking scene, while emoting in character as former US marine corpsman Stupe. Predictably, the wholesome heroine Lucy (Brittany Snow) turns into a gun-toting survivalist.
Bushwick is not a bad effort of its type. It never quite manages to ascend to the electrifying or amusing heights of its genre inspirations, like Walter Hill’s The Warriors (1979), and John Carpenter’s Escape From New York (1981), or John Milius’ Red Dawn (1984). But there’s just about enough engagement with contemporary issues about gun violence and political dissent to elevate Bushwick’s action-thriller material above the wholly blundering standards of the Italian exploitation flicks made in the 1980s that were clearly influenced by those aforementioned cult classics.