Sundance London 2017: Bushwick Review Sundance London 2017: Bushwick Review
Despite hails of bullets, Bushwick is way off target. You’re on the New York subway with your boyfriend waiting for a train, but it all seems... Sundance London 2017: Bushwick Review

Despite hails of bullets, Bushwick is way off target.

You’re on the New York subway with your boyfriend waiting for a train, but it all seems very quiet.  Too quiet – apart from the tannoy announcement ordering you to evacuate the station.  As you approach the exit, a man rushes in, ablaze from head to toe and you can hear gunfire and explosions coming from outside.

It’s certainly no tea party – and it’s the premise for urban action flick Bushwick, which has its first UK outing this week at Sundance London.  Lucy (Brittany Snow) is making her way to her grandmother’s when she and her boyfriend run into utter carnage on the streets of Bushwick in Brooklyn.  Finding herself alone, Lucy has to dodge bullets, looters and mysterious, black-clad militia.  She eventually takes shelter in the basement of Stupe (Dave Bautista) who helps her to cross the neighbourhood to get to her destination.  And discover why all hell has broken loose in a usually quiet part of town.

Source: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Those aerial helicopter shots opening the film give away that something seriously bad is about to go down.  Which is exactly what happens.  The trouble is that description applies just as much to the way the film’s been made as to what happens on screen.  As Lucy and Stupe (short for Stupid, perhaps?) make their way through a school, debris littered streets, a house and a church, it’s like watching an attempt to bring a basic video game to life – of sorts.  along the way, they also stop off for a visit with Lucy’s sister, a dopy junkie, and it’s there that they – and we – discover why there’s a bloodbath on the streets.  By this stage, it’s half way through the movie.

Wait for it – you’ll like this.  Apparently, there’s a civil war in progress.  Texas and a handful of other states are attacking NYC so that the President will agreed to them leaving the Union and going it alone.  So it’s a film with a strong political message, then?  Nope.  The script has nothing overtly political to say whatsoever.  All it does is crate more opportunities for Snow and Bautista to run around, dodge bullets, get wounded themselves and kill a few militia along the way.

Source: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Bautista’s character, incidentally, is a janitor. OK, an ex-marine who’s now a janitor, but you’re still about as likely to see him looking after an apartment block as you are to watch Steven Segal cooking up a storm in the kitchen.  If he was hoping that this would add to his acting credentials, he really should have picked a script that gave him more to do than keep shouting Lucy’s name and exclaiming “Sh*t!”

The film looks like what it is – low budget.  So we rarely see the helicopters overhead, the actual explosions and all the screaming hoards on the streets.  We’re just treated to sound effects and have to do the rest for ourselves.  And when there is some CGI, it’s of a pretty low standard.

Bushwick isn’t so bad it’s good.  It’s just bad.  And it’s a film where the main female character goes in search of grandma’s house and wears a red coat.  Just look at the picture …….

Bushwick screens at Sundance London on Friday, 2nd June and Saturday, 3rd June.

The film is in UK cinemas on 25th August and released on Digital Download on 28th August.

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Freda Cooper

A lifelong lover of films, I'm at last living the proverbial dream - as a film critic and radio presenter. My blog and podcast, both called Talking Pictures, are award nominated, and I'm heard rabbiting away about movies to my heart's content every Friday morning on BBC Surrey and BBC Sussex. Favourite film? The Third Man. Career highlight to date? Interviewing Woody Harrelson in his trailer at Pinewood!