Variations On A Theme: Our Review of ‘Bushwick’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical, VOD/iTunes/DigitalDownload by - August 25, 2017
Variations On A Theme: Our Review of ‘Bushwick’

This is kind of like John Carpenter’s dystopic film Escape from New York. That movie’s synopsis is self explanatory but this one might need more explaining. Cary Murnion and Jonathan Millot’s Bushwick takes place in, well, Bushwick. It’s home to Lucy, visiting from college. Playing the character is Brittany Snow.

Snow is someone who has yet to prove that she’s from anywhere outside of suburbia. She has a serviceable rapport with her boyfriend Jose (Arturo Castro). But she’s going to need to really connect with the other players she meets as the movie progresses. And she never gets to that level.

Her flawed performance here, like some of the individual pieces in this movie, doesn’t fit. Snow has some fine points, however. As Lucy, she regales Jose (Arturo Castro) with subway stories with such casualness. His reaction points to a childish nature that she calls out. She jokes that she needs a manlier boyfriend to protect her.

Oh but Lucy find one. But only in a situation where she’ll have no time to even think of men as romantic interests. As she and Jose leave a subway station, they walk into her neighborhood, more chaotic than she left it. Black ops and gang members roam the streets.

They’re battling for control and killing each other and the innocent people who come in the crossfire. She’d be dead if it wasn’t for Stupe (Dave Bautista). He reluctantly helps Lucy get to where her family lives, which is a logical trajectory in her situation.

That’s one of the things I like in this film that Nick Damici, and Graham Reznick wrote. I assumed was going to be a simple B-film where characters try to get from one place to another. Lucy and Stupe have a lot of places to go to after rescuing her family members separately. And that shakes up this genre quite a bit.

Further details of the premise slowly unfold through the movie. The two find their way into her foster sister Belinda’s (Angelic Zambrana) apartment. There, one of the black ops men try to get in. Overpowered, the soldier reveals that he’s part of a Southern secessionist army invading the city.

He didn’t count on the citizens resisting their terrible cause, which is something both Belinda taunts him for. It’s also a predictable variable, one of many. It’s New York City, home to many gangs and other strong willed, tough people. No one expects these people to concede to a bunch of racist guys.

And this reminds me of one of the film’s strengths, as it shows the coexistence of both anarchy and cooperation. Some people loot, but most people rise up to the occasion. One scene shows a Hasidic Jew throwing a Molotov at one of the New Confederates, as one should.

There’s one major flaw in the film’s premise. It’s the idea that Lucy, Jose, or any of the Brooklynites are unaware of this civil war. Like we do, I imagine that this fictional version of our world live in trying times. I assume that the characters would imagine such worst-case scenarios like we are now.

These characters also don’t go beyond archetypes. We already have the blonde in distress and the burly knight in his shiny wool coat. Then there are the opportunistic ethnic stereotypes and the clueless stoner with a sharp tongue. And lastly, the delusional able bodied white guy playing dress up as a paramilitary lieutenant.

This is a film that messes up both its outlines and the colours in between. I am also not the first person to write bad things about it. But I equally anticipate the person who will defend this movie as vigorously as these characters defend their neighborhood.


  • Release Date: 8/24/2017
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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