Cary Murnion, Jonathan Milott
Brittany Snow, Dave Bautista, Christian Navarro
Choose theaters & VOD August 25
Think about a Civil Warfare film that begins as follows: Some strange American in 1861 is simply wandering the street, maybe idly questioning if mankind will ever invent some technique of particular person transportation speedier than the horse, when out of the blue all hell breaks unfastened. Musket hearth in all places, cannons booming, troopers in unfamiliar uniforms skewing folks with sabers and stabbing them with bowie knives. The protagonist is understandably terrified, but additionally completely bewildered. Who’re these killers? What the hell is happening?
That’s roughly the premise that Bushwick asks viewers to swallow, besides that it’s transposed to the current day. Rising from an oddly abandoned Brooklyn subway platform, grad pupil Lucy (Brittany Snow) unexpectedly finds herself in a warfare zone, and spends the remainder of the film desperately making an attempt to remain alive as others are being gunned down on the streets by some type of paramilitary power. Luckily, she quickly stumbles onto a former Marine going by the unbelievable identify of Stupe (Dave Bautista), who grudgingly turns into her protector, and finally her pal. The 2 make their approach towards a rumored extraction level, discovering en route (by interrogating a captured enemy soldier, who seems to be from Texas) that this battle quantities to Civil Warfare II, and that Bushwick was focused on the outset as a result of the New Confederacy felt that the neighborhood’s ethnic variety would make it simple pickings.
What simply occurred in Charlottesville lends Bushwick (which premiered at Sundance in January, and was shot again when everybody anticipated President Hillary Clinton) additional resonance, although the remark about variety just about exhausts the movie’s reserves of pointed political commentary. Actually, no person concerned on this mission appears to have thought of the absurdity of one other U.S. civil warfare taking residents fully without warning, as if such an excessive nationwide rupture may happen with zero preamble. (They won’t anticipate the primary assault, however they’d rattling properly know who’s attacking and why.) Administrators Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott, who beforehand made the horror-comedy Cooties, are more invested in orchestrating carnage and showing off. Like many filmmakers nowadays, they’ve firmly bought into the dubious idea that long, unbroken, extensively choreographed shots create extra tension; the first visible cut in Bushwick occurs 28 minutes in, with prior edits blatantly disguised by quick moments of darkness. As usual, this means that substandard work—and even flubbed lines—are left intact if they happen to occur near the end of a given tour de force, as the aesthetic benchmark gets reduced to “close enough that we don’t need to start the whole damn thing over.”
Nonetheless, Bushwick confirms Bautista as a potentially major star, capable of more than Drax’s befuddled one-liners (but apparently incapable of playing a character with a non-silly name; look for him in the role of “Sapper” when Blade Runner 2049 opens this fall). As Stupe, he’s endearingly weary, somehow projecting badass strength while forever seeming as if he’d like nothing more than to lie down for a few minutes and take a nap. His narcoleptic macho plays very nicely opposite Snow, who takes Lucy in incremental steps from barely controlled panic to courageous resolve. But the characters’ relationship, like everything else here, remains frustratingly subordinate to Murnion and Milott’s low-budget spectacle, discordantly set at times to a pulsating Aesop Rock score. Even the film’s downer of an ending feels oddly empty. Bushwick imagines nothing less than the collapse of the United States Of America, with half the country in armed revolt. At a time when that possibility can feel all too frighteningly real, it’s dispiriting to see it employed as little more than an excuse to engineer a live-action Grand Theft Auto.