Reviewed by: Jane Fae

Bushwick - Lucy emerges from a Brooklyn subway to find that her neighbourhood is under attack by black-clad military soldiers. An ex-Marine corpsman, Stupe, reluctantly helps her fight for survival through a civil war, as Texas attempts to secede from the United States of America.
"In the wake of events in Charlottesville in August 2017 it is downright terrifying." | Photo: Lyle Vincent

Wow! It takes some balls to stage a violent left-right confrontation in a US city as advance publicity for your film release.

But, seriously... as many have already commented elsewhere, the read-over from Bushwick, a film in which a secessionist, anti-diversity insurrection by Texas and a ragtag assortment of Southern states seeks to impose its will by taking chunks of New York hostage would be chilling enough on its own. In the wake of events in Charlottesville in August 2017 it is downright terrifying.

Copy picture

Because unlike Red Dawn and other outpourings of right-wing paranoia, such as Invasion USA (both 1956 and 1985 versions), Bushwick is released in a year when such themes have arrived on the political map in a big way. Secession is once more being talked about, if still on the edges of politics, not only by Southern States, but also on the liberal coasts – most notably in California.

Add the revelation that at Charlottesville, white supremacists had set up weapons caches around the area and probably out-gunned local police, and the parallels are even more blatant.

So far from being far-fetched, directors Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott have delivered a work that is eerily, frighteningly prophetic in its basic premise.

As for execution, I'll mostly echo the comments of fellow reviewer Jennie Kermode, who praises this on many grounds, including pacing, dialogue, camerawork, believability and atmosphere. Yes, yes, yes and yes to all that.

I did like this film very much. Just possibly not quite as much as they did. Why? In part, it's the way it inserts “moments” which, while well done, also felt, in places, quite staged.

So we have the moment when Lucy, who has been metamorphosing from naïve teen (Brittany Snow) to action hero throughout the film steps up to the plate and takes the lead. The droll moment when a group of orthodox Jews storm a barrier manned by the invading army.

Or the moment, almost exactly mid-film, where lead good guy (Dave Bautista) interrogates a captured soldier who explains they were surprised by the level of resistance because “ethno-diversity” (no: not the right word in his mouth) - and because they didn't expect so much resistance, so many guns. He is, of course, “only following orders”. And while I get this, it feels just a little too pat, too much like propaganda. Well-meant – but propaganda nonetheless.

Ditto the moment where a crowd take to the streets to storm the barricades, and the chant is: “Whose streets? Our streets!”

In addition, this film has very much the feel of first person shooter to it. Either based on one, or anticipating the game to follow. “Emerging from the subway, you discover your neighbourhood has been taken over by an invading army. Your mission: save your grandma, find your sister and escape to safety via the de-militarised zone”.

Not just the narrative, but the shooting angles too, as the camera follows our two principal characters through a series of situations, mowing down a seemingly never-ending stream of black-clad enemy along the way.

Still, despite such minor flaws, Bushwick remains a good film in its own right: tense, watchable. And since Charlottesville, absolutely required viewing for any Current Politics course debate on “Could this ever happen here?”

Reviewed on: 25 Aug 2017
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A young woman teams up with a military veteran to try and survive when insurgents bring war to the streets of New York City.
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Read more Bushwick reviews:

Jennie Kermode ****

Director: Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion

Writer: Nick Damici, Graham Reznick

Starring: Brittany Snow, Dave Bautista, Arturo Castro, Christian Navarro, Angelic Zambrana, Jeff Lima, Patrick M. Walsh, Quincy Chad, Jay Hieron, Jeremie Harris, Alex Breaux, Ludovic Coutaud, Adrian Matilla, Justin L. Wilson, Myra Lucretia Taylor

Year: 2016

Runtime: 94 minutes

Country: US

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