Sundance London 2017 Review: Bushwick

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60%
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Engaging

Bushwick is a very watchable action-thriller with interesting political edge and gnarly special effects.

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The action-thriller genre is as inflated as movie genres come. From your average Liam Neeson thriller to the endless Die Hards, Bournes and Mission Impossibles, creating a fresh action-thriller in such a dense cinematic category is no easy feat.

Even though it arguably fizzles out towards the end, Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion’s Bushwick is a very watchable action movie with enough political edge to its premise to keep it interesting. Starring Hollywood’s current macho man of choice, Dave Bautista, the film is set in the New York neighbourhood of its title and envisions a chaotic civil war in modern-day America.

At the start of the film, we follow Lucy (Brittany Snow) and her boyfriend as they walk through an eerily barren subway in her hometown. Quickly, their cutesy couple-gestures are cut short when a man, set aflame and screaming, runs past them (if there was ever a perfect way to immediately capture a viewer’s attention, it is probably the brief, sudden appearance of a man doused in fire.)

It soon becomes clear that the neighbourhood is caught under a mysterious military invasion, as official-looking men take to the streets, shooting on sight. The grim consequences of this hellish situation are made even more visceral when Lucy witnesses her boyfriend’s brutal demise, as he is caught in an explosion.

Scared and alone, Lucy makes her way through the streets and the mayhem, only to be caught by two vicious hoodlums in a bunker. Thankfully, before she is attacked, Bautista’s ex-Marine Stupe comes to the rescue, tackling the criminals down with exhilarating force. With a newfound bodyguard in tow, Lucy makes it her mission to reach her grandmother and sister who are trapped in the suburbs.

Part of the film’s intrigue is in its not-so-subtle twists and turns. To spoil any more of the plot would spoil first-hand enjoyment of the film. However, it has to be said that the provocative (and scarily credible) political concept behind the military invasion is perhaps the film’s greatest element.  Amongst the real-life affairs of American politics at the moment, the premise evokes a higher sense of intrigue, which proves to be as thought-provoking as it is compelling.

Dave Bautista gives a commendable performance as Stupe, who despite his gruff demeanour, carries with him a haunting past. As good as he is at playing the action hero and kicking bad guy ass, there are a few moments in which the actor portrays a more vulnerable side to the character – taking to more emotional scenes with tact. Brittany Snow also does well in her role as Lucy, evolving from a frightened young girl to a braver, more ruthless woman.

As interesting as the premise is and as likeable as the two leads are, the film still fizzles out towards it’s anti-climactic conclusion. Though the film features some delightfully gnarly special effects and a whole lot of explosions, it all gets a little dense and underwhelming in the final act – which is somewhat disappointing following the film’s strong opening and interesting mid-way reveal.

Bushwick starts strong with two commendable leads and an interesting premise at the heart of the action. Even though it fizzles out towards the end, it still proves to be an engaging watch.

Bushwick (2017), directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion is distributed in the UK by Ketchup Entertainment. (Certificate 15)

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Editor [2016 - 2017], News Editor [2015 - 2016]. Current record holder for most ever articles written by a single Edgeling. Also Film & English Student and TV Editor for The National Student. Main loves include cats, actors and pasta.

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