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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Bushwick movie review: don’t mess with Brooklyn

Bushwick green light

MaryAnn’s quick take…

There’s fierce tension in this breathless urban survival thriller as anarchy comes to New York streets. Terrific, innovative low-budget action filmmaking.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

College student Lucy (Brittany Snow: Pitch Perfect 2) comes up out of the New York City subway to find that all hell has broken loose: there’s gunfire and explosions everywhere, fires burning, mysterious troopers — terrorists? — in black rounding up residents (or killing them), no signs of NYPD or any other legitimate authorities. Terrified, baffled, and on the verge of becoming a victim of the sudden lawlessness, Lucy teams up with reluctant veteran Stupe (Dave Bautista: Blade Runner 2049) as they both attempt to get to safety… if such a place exists. The less you know about Bushwick (named for Lucy and Stupe’s working-class neighborhood in northern Brooklyn) the better — all the marketing of the film, from the trailer to the DVD descriptions, is far too spoilerish — for the incredibly fierce tension and horrortweet that directors Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott create is heightened by the uncertainty over just what the hell is going on and how widespread the urban chaos might be: is it just Bushwick? just Brooklyn? is it all of NYC? WTF? Screenwriter Nick Damici (with Graham Reznick) has a good nasty track record with fresh-take horror: his 2007 rat-virus-zombie flick Mulberry Street is also very specifically New York–ish, and his vampire adventure Stake Land, from 2010, shares an appreciation for fucked-up Americana with Bushwick. But it’s the panache with which Murnion and Milott pull off the trick of the movie appearing to play out in breathless real time, as if it were one long uncut take, that makes the experience so riveting. The cuts are hidden, mostly pretty seamlessly, as Lucy and Stupe wend their way through abandoned shops and homes, dodging both the strange invaders and those who would take advantage of the anarchy. It’s a no-letup shockwave of social breakdown,tweet and a terrific example of innovative low-budget action filmmaking.

Click here for my ranking of this and 2017’s other releases.

green light 4 stars

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Bushwick (2017) | directed by Cary Murnion, Jonathan Milott
US/Can release: Aug 25 2017 (VOD same day)
UK/Ire release: Aug 25 2017

MPAA: not rated
BBFC: rated 15 (strong language, violence, threat, injury detail, sex references)

viewed at home on PR-supplied physical media or screening link

IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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