Action Adventure

'Bushwick' Film Review: Dave Bautista battles a lackluster script and gimmicky action tropes

August 24, 2017Rattan Mutti

There was a time in Hollywood when B-movies were a very common thing. More recently, however, there hasn’t been a seminal action movie that both defines its decade and transcends it. With Bushwick, we get to see wrestler-turned-actor Dave Bautista step out of his Drax-sized shadow and show off his acting capabilities. But even its ample action can't save the film from its poor dialogue, lack of proper villain and tired gimmick.

Taking its name from the Brooklyn neighborhood in which it's set, Bushwick follows a 20-year-old college student named Lucy (Brittany Snow). As she makes her way to her grandmother’s house one day, she realizes that Bushwick has become a bloodbath. Texas, in a violent attempt to secede from the rest of America, is using Bushwick and its surrounding boroughs to make a statement, by sending heavily-armed troops to invade its streets. Luckily, Lucy encounters a mysterious stranger by the name of Stupe (Bautista), and they team up to survive the carnage.

Bushwick is a very frustrating film in that it has the potential to be something interesting — what with its action, characters and premise — but ultimately falls flat. That said, it is worth praising Snow and Bautista, who both turn in commendable performances, even though they aren't given much to work with, as the screenplay by Nick Damici and Graham Reznick showcases only the bare bones of generic character tropes like the damsel in distress and the grizzled army veteran. Still, despite the shallow characterizations, the pair does have a chemistry that comes off the screen in spades.

The story itself is relevant and timely. However, that feels like more of a coincidence than anything else. You do get the impression that directors Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott are trying to do something interesting and cool. Yet, their vision is hampered by apparent budgetary constraints. As a result, the action sequences and the CGI in the film are both clearly impacted. Only the opening sequence, set in the subway, and the closing sequence, set in a park, resonate as well-executed action set-pieces. But apart from these bookends, the film's reliance on the gimmick of having action scenes unfold as one continuous shot just feels very forced.

The writing also doesn't feel authentic and hinders viewers from connecting with the characters. Supporting players such as JP (Jeremie Harris), Belinda (Angelic Zambrana) and Lt. Quaid (Alex Breaux) aren't given quality dialogue or enough screen time for them to come off as real people. However, the biggest problem is the ambiguous "villain" of the piece, whom audiences are simply expected to fear, without any reason to do so. There's never any sense of real danger. Instead, the film should have followed the approach of something like Red Dawn or its remake, and at least put a face to the enemy.

In the end, Bushwick is a movie that has two good leads who carry the story on their backs. But unfortunately, that isn't enough. Bushwick fights a good fight, but ultimately fails to live up to its potential, due to its bad dialogue, a lack of cohesive vision and an absence of good supporting characters, not to mention a worthwhile villain.

Bushwick releases August 25th, 2017 from Search Engine Films. The film has an OFRB rating of 14A for coarse language, violence, gory scenes and disturbing content. Its runtime is 1 Hr. 34 Mins.

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