Lucy (Brittany Snow) emerges from a subway ride like any other ordinary day to find that her Brooklyn neighbourhood, Bushwick, is under attack – soldiers are tackling, bombing and shooting the civilians. People are fighting back, fighting each other, and even looting. While caught up in the mess, Lucy is saved by an imposing-looking custodian named Stupe (Dave Bautista). The two make plans to travel to the military extraction point, navigating the chaos and bloodshed as best they can.
Bushwick is fun pulp. You’ll figure out soon that it presents more like an extended videogame cutscene; like when the group of orthodox Jewish men assault the invaders with automatic weapons and molotov cocktails, or when never-held-a-gun-before Lucy suddenly becomes Splinter Cell’s Sam Fisher and headshots two suspecting soldiers that very clearly have the drop on her – it’s all gravy. Directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion (Cooties) generate intensity with long takes and cheated cuts, taking place almost entirely in real-time – staying with Lucy and Stupe wherever they go.
The film also serves as a pleasant reminder that Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) is a charming and capable actor. He and Brittany Snow (Pitch Perfect 2) share a classic on-screen chemistry, and fulfill the essential connection that the two characters must make in order to make the story work.
Entertainment aside, there’s little depth to Bushwick. Its message of Union superiority is conflated with conflicting libertarian and second amendment ideals of the invading Confederacy 2.0 (luckily for Milott and Murnion, the general conflict and villainization of half the country is much more relevant even in these past few weeks than anyone could have ever guessed when filming began in 2015). Additionally, what Bushwick does portray is unnecessarily and unrealistically pessimistic: Lucy emerges from the subway to a New York already in full anarchy mode. Bushwick suggests that Brooklyners are one martial law and about an hour away from being indiscriminate killers, as civilians loot stores and murder each other for what appears to be their idea of a good time.
With this confusing thesis combined with an abrupt end to Lucy’s story, Bushwick “blueballs” the audience without any sort of resolution or concrete stance. The sudden credit roll prompts the question, “Well, if that’s how it ends, what the hell was this movie about then?” The ride is exciting while it lasts. It just feels like the audience is made to get off before the big, final drop.
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Trevor Jeffery: @TrevorSJeffery