Bushwick is an interesting little film that, despite being released earlier this year, was actually filmed throughout 2015. I see it as a cross between Birdman and Red Dawn, and whilst it may be seen as inferior, it tries to do something different with its relatively simple story.
Bushwick stars Brittany Snow (Pitch Perfect) as Lucy, your average 20-something, who is visiting her Grandma in the New York City borough of Bushwick. However, things go to hell – literally in a matter of moments – and she finds herself on the run from a mysterious and brutal military force that’s systematically exterminating the entire neighbourhood. Bushwick certainly doesn’t waste any time (and with a fairly trim running time of just over 90 minutes) the movie crackles along at an electric pace.
Lucy swiftly runs into the basement-dwelling Stupe, played by Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), and the two must work together to survive the war between the local population and the mysterious invaders. Large parts of the story are shrouded in mystery at the start, a consequence of the breakneck pace, but often the answers aren’t as interesting as they could be.
You want gimmicks? This film’s got gimmicks. You may have noticed that I compared Bushwick to Birdman in the intro, and with good reason. Bushwick is filmed in such a way as to make it look like one continuous shot. An odd choice for an action movie, I know, but it’s incorporated well and rarely distracts, apart from when the camera will take an unusual interest in the floor or a bit of wall for an extra few seconds to sneak in a transition. Nevertheless, some takes can go on for as long as ten minutes, which is nothing to be sniffed at. The whole film has this ‘thrown together’ vibe, which can look either appealing or unprofessional, depending on your own personal preference.
Now, no movie is perfect, and neither is Bushwick. A shorter runtime means a faster story, and as a result, people recover from ostensibly serious injuries strangely quickly. Some of the dialogue is mumbled, to the point where I had to strain to listen, and let’s just say that the acting won’t be winning any awards anytime soon. Some members of the audience may have an issue with the plot, which I’m going to talk about now, so beware of spoilers below.
So, the plot. Now, whether or not Bushwick was trying to make a political statement is up to interpretation, but its plot is definitely … Distinctive. That mysterious military force I’ve been going on about is eventually revealed to be a private militia from Texas, of all places, as well as a selection of other states that are seceding from the USA. See what I mean? The words ‘civil war’ are thrown around a lot, and overall it’s a thoroughly ‘B-movie’ plot. The southern theme never directly interferes with the action (no confederate flag-shaped ships descend from the sky) and honestly doesn’t affect the course of the story all that much … Aside from, you know, starting it.
I like Bushwick. It’s a cobbled-together, brash, brutal creature that does some things right and other things quite wrong. The one-shot approach adds that something extra, and while you could write it off as a gimmick, you cannot deny the effort that went into the style choice. Bushwick is not great, nor is it bad. It’s a curio, an oddity. A low-budget B-movie that entertains much more than you think.