Post-grad student Lucy is on her way home to introduce her boyfriend to her grandmother while on a break. As they head for the train, they realize that it’s unusually quiet – then in the empty subway station, the silence is broken by a man on fire.
Welcome back to Bushwick, Lucy!
Lucy’s (Brittany Snow) boyfriend tries to go for help and winds up on fire – leaving Lucy to find her way to grandmother’s house through what has become a war zone (she just hasn’t realized it yet).
Fleeing some looters (who clearly haven’t figured out what’s happening either), she takes refuge in a basement – to no avail. The looters follow her. Their mistake.
Stupe (Dave Bautista) lives in this basement and he’s not happy to find strangers in his home.
Stupe follows Lucy when she tries to head for her grandmother’s house – unwillingly at first, but circumstances (like an army of guys in black and armed like military) persuade him differently.
The pair fails to escape notice, however and find themselves on the roof of a school, with Lucy helping Stupe with a hunk of glass through his leg.
Eventually, they reach grandma’s house – but she’s dead. Heart attack, not violence.
Stupe has already pointed out to Lucy that martial law has been declared and someone has invaded, but a quick trip to see her sister, Belinda (Angelic Zambrana) soon remedies their lack of knowledge.
Belinda thinks Lucy must be high to be talking about what’s going on – until one of the black army crashes into her apartment (though Stupe renders him helpless quickly). When they question him (at gunpoint), they are shocked to learn that they’ve been attacked by a mercenary force in support of Texas’ secession from the U.S. – and that half a dozen other states are supporting them!
Laughably, they picked Bushwick as a ‘soft zone’ for grabbing a foothold because guns were illegal there and the district had a high rate of ethnic diversity. They were surprised at the pushback and are now shooting to kill. (‘Welcome to New York, mother***er!’ screams Belinda)
As a low budget B-movie with a little something to say, Bushwick is surprisingly well made – allowing for some really abrupt changes of mind and some lapses in logic.
The screenplay – by Nick Damici and Graham Reznick, from a story by directors Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott – does suffer from the aforementioned shifts and lapses (like Stupe telling Lucy to get out, then an instant later helping her – however begrudgingly, or Belinda’s reaction her visitors and immediate change).
The pacing of the film is fast enough that the lapses don’t have a lot of impact while they’re happening – they only standout when you’re thinking about the film later. At the time, they play like humor (and yes, there is some humor in the film – intentionally and unintelligently), but in retrospect… definitely lapses.
Given that Bushwick was low budget and must have had a very short production schedule, the things it has to say about the political/emotional divide that currently exist in America have to have been intended to comment on that.
Murnion and Milott’s direction is mostly pretty assured – the action sequences (the bulk of the film) look and feel pretty real, and the main characters work equally well.
Bautista, in particular, gives a terrific performance – his Guardians of the Galaxy character, Drax, went through a lot (including losing his family), but Stupe gives Bautista a chance to provide an equally nuanced performance without being partially hidden by makeup. He makes the most of the opportunity.
Snow – who probably remains best known for playing Chloe in the Pitch Perfect movies – does a believable job of taking a ditzy college girl and turning her into a somewhat more competent combatant (I said ‘somewhat’) with Stupe’s help.
At 93 minutes, with closing credits, Bushwick does a good job of making its point, blowing stuff up real good and getting out of town.
As August continues to open fewer and fewer movies worth watching, Bushwick comes a noticeable exception.
Final Grade: B+