Reviewed by: Harvey Karten, CompuServe Film d-based on Rotten Tomatoes
Director: Cary Murnion, Jonathan Milott
Written by: Nick Damici, Graham Reznick
Cast: Dave Bautista, Brittany Snow, Angelic Zambrana, Jeremie Harris
Screened at: Critics’ Link, NYC, 8/9/17
Opens: August 25, 2017
August 2017 might be called the Black Lives Matter in the Movies month. Four films about neighborhood protests in Crown Heights, Brooklyn (“Crown Heights”), Ferguson, Missouri (“Whose Streets?”), Detroit, Michigan (“Detroit”) and Bushwick, Brooklyn (“Bushwick”) make the scene. Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott, who directed “Bushwick,” are known for “Cooties” (a virus turns elementary school kids into savages) bearing the cute tagline “You are what they eat.” You can hardly expect these gentlemen, then, to contribute a staid documentary with talking heads, and they do not. This time, though, Bushwick is not a serious look at race relations even though the Brooklyn neighborhood has a large African-American population. Bushwick is chosen because in the context of the film, the bad guys think that a multi-ethnic neighborhood would offer little resistance to a takeover.
While some reviewers might praise the film as a solid B-movie, the silly dialogue and mindless shooting scenes are not conducive to viewer patience, even among the target audience of young males of all races. To its credit, however, the production team capitalizes on what the media have been saying for months, maybe years. That is the idea, given the polarization of the country into red states and blue states, and given the way that congress is badly split with only a semblance of bi-partisanship, that we are on the brink of a second civil war. Nick Damici and Graham Reznick, who wrote the script, are on the side of those who want to keep America united, and opposed to the militia sent by Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and a few other southern states who want to use Bushwick as a zone of operations. Remember, also, that former Texas governor Rick Perry suggested that after the election of Obama, his state could consider seceding; a statement that put him right up there with Donald Trump for idiocy.
The plot, with dialogue that appears so dumb that it might have been improvised given the regular use of the f-work, and repeated exclamations of omigod, is almost painful to sit through. The story finds Lucy (Brittany Snow), a graduate student in civil engineering, heading to her grandma’s house with her boyfriend—who gets killed upon exiting the Church Avenue subway station. Lucy is on her own until she runs into ex-Marine Stupe (David Bautista) and, both armed, they proceed block by block to an evacuation center, dodging bullets, occasionally giving some help to downed neighbors. When one of the soldiers (Alex Breaux) is captured, he confesses that he is just following orders: that the southern states want to force Congress to ratify a secession. Among the losers they find on the way is Lucy’s pothead sister Belinda (Angelic Zambrana), who minutes after shouting “Who is that guy?” upon seeing Stupe is attempting to seduce him.
The film concludes open-ended. We have to wait for a potential sequel to see whether the southern states secede. I can wait.
Unrated. 94 minutes. © Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
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