This Sundance-approved thriller casts southerners in a murderous light.
The prestigious event allegedly accepts the best of the best from the indie world. Filmmakers’ careers can be made by getting their work screened in Park City, Utah.
Yet “Bushwick” debuted via Sundance all the same.
Did the film’s progressive premise punch its entry card? It’s hard to think otherwise after viewing a film with the rancid message aimed at a large swath of America.
Brittany Snow is Lucy, a grad student coming home to the Bushwick section of New York to see grandma. She’s even sporting a red jacket to connect the fairy tale dots.
Lucy emerges from an oddly empty subway station to discover a war zone. Explosions. Smoke. Gun fire. She quickly bonds with Stupe (Dave Bautista), a former Marine who can fight and sew people up as needed.
Together, they attempt to reach a safe zone while bullets and bodies pile up all around them.
“Bushwick” reveals its nasty message at the halfway mark. A group of southern states, including Texas, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana, want out of the U.S.A.
The Fathers of the New America Coalition declared war against the rest of the country in order to secede and start a land “free from government tyranny.”
Meanwhile, the film is hitting theaters as some progressives pine for California to create a separate country of its own. Oops.
That’s not all. These murderous shock troops picked Bushwick as an attack point because its “ethnic diversity” made it a soft target.
“It ain’t racist. It’s fact,” one expository-lovin’ soldier says.
“Bushwick” wisely restricts the talking points to but a few minutes of screen time. That leaves us to endure the predictable plot points, clumsy narrative and hapless dialogue.
How many times can we hear variations of, ‘Let’s get the f*** out of here?”
Bautista, a sharp comic presence in two “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, is one-note gruff from start to finish. It doesn’t help that his character’s backstory features the prototypical anti-American soldier slur.
All together now, “I did a lot of things I’m not proud of.”
FAST FACT: “Bushwick” star Brittany Snow says the premise behind her new movie “isn’t that far-fetched.”
You’ll also meet the most annoying film character of 2017 … or maybe the decade. Belinda (Angelic Zambrana) is Lucy’s stoner sister, and the less said about her moronic character, the better.
We never get to meet the soldiers infiltrating Bushwick beyond Captain Exposition. Delivering a faceless enemy usually makes liberal film critics scowl. Yet they gave “Bushwick” a pass on that front.
The Church also suffers a brief but obvious sucker punch late in the film. A local priest checks out, but not before suggesting his own moral failings – out of the complete blue.
Directors Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott (“Cooties”) rely far too much on long tracking shots. The first time it gives us a “you are there” immediacy. The second helping isn’t bad, either. By the seventh time? The technique is far too visible. The movie’s overhead shots of the city under fire are far more effective.
Otherwise, “Bushwick” fails as both a political allegory and guilty pleasure cinema.
The film’s Rotten Tomatoes score hardly reflects a project worthy of Sundance consideration (43 percent ‘Rotten’). Liberal critics cheered its storyline while acknowledging its myriad flaws.
Did the programmers at Sundance follow a similar path?
HiT or Miss: Love good, ol’ fashioned B-movie mayhem? You won’t find it in “Bushwick,” a lame attempt at blending politics with blood and guts action.