Bushwick arrives two weeks after the ugly scenes in Charlottesville, visualising the rise of white supremacy in the Southern states of America. In Cary Murnion’s and Jonathan Milott’s world, Texas has galvanised a number of surrounding states to declare their independence from the United States. A civil war is underway and an army of mercenary soldiers storm into Bushwick literally not looking to take any prisoners. When it comes to politics this is as heavy as it gets (waiting a solid 45 minutes to let us and the characters in on that information) and instead sticks with a simple B-movie premise from start to finish.
Our entry point into this urban war zone is with Lucy (Brittany Snow) and her boyfriend as they leave a strangely deserted subway station. Stepping out onto the street they soon discover why. Her partner is instantly flambéed by a grenade, leaving Lucy to run in panic along the streets of Bushwick avoiding the masked gunmen who are shooting down civilians and setting her Brooklyn neighbourhood alight. This visceral opening is the strongest part of the film, pitching us straight into a real life video game, chasing behind Lucy as she scrambles to stay alive, trying make sense of the ensuing madness.
Lucy's life is saved by a janitor named Stupe (Dave Bautista), who luckily enough also happens to be an ex-marine and pretty handy with his fists and a gun. Their plan is to find a way to the nearest evacuation area and get the hell out of Dodge. Well, Bushwick. Bullets are flying everywhere, cars and buildings are on fire and soldiers are marching into residential homes to wipe out the locals. Some of the civilians are fighting back while others turn to looting as the chaos continues to escalate. Most people are mown down where they stand but the resilience of the Bushwick community refuses to be broken.
The gimmick used by the directors is the illusion that this is all shot in one take. There is no comparison to be had with films like Victoria or Birdman because the 40+ edits are painfully obvious to see. This only serves to continually remove you from the action as you keep an eye out for the next one to appear. From the very first scene the dialogue proves to be a problem and it fails to improve beyond improvisational standard. Naturally, the characters suffer because of this and whether Lucy or Stupe make it out alive doesn't seem to matter one bit come the end. Bautista hints at doing something more with his character in between his low level grumbling but you wouldn't be heartbroken if Lucy caught a hollow tip straight to the head piece.
Murnion and Milott's script was written in the aftermath of the Baltimore clashes two years ago, where a heavily militarised police took to the city streets. Bushwick clearly wanted to avoid overly politicising the drama and instead went in the complete opposite direction by avoiding it at all costs. It's a strange decision especially since the Bushwick location wasn't picked out at random by the writer/directors. With poor cinematography, forgettable characters, a paper thin screenplay and a raft of ideas that remain underdeveloped, you'll be better served staying in and playing GTA for the night.