THinc. and fellow THINC.ers (just coined that particular phrase and I’m thinking it needs to be on a T-Shirt, pronto! Hahah. Something lame like, what? THINC.ers UNITE! Or maybe I’m A THINC.er, Are You? Ok ok, I’ll stop now) alike know how I roll. Spend 100 minutes cookie cuttering your way through a rehash of every movie we have ever seen? I am not interested. Even if you spend 300 million making your rehash exciting. No thanks. But if you take a cool idea, your iPhone, a couple friends and make something we’ve never seen before? I’m there. In a heartbeat.
There are plenty of recent examples that show just how right I am. 6 Days, What Happened to Monday?, The Wall, Phoenix Forgotten, I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore, want me to stop? Ok, I’ll keep going, you twisted my arm, Shimmer Lake, Lady Macbeth, Realive, Free Fire, Belko Experiment, Personal Shopper, and on and on I could go. Just be different. It may not make millions at the box office, but you will definitely will do well here!
Which brings us to Bushwick. I think I heard about its existence 6 months ago? And have had it on my list to check out when it finally arrived. And let me tell you, I wasn’t disappointed.
Bushwick is a simple idea. War, for some unknown reason, unexpectedly breaks out in the belly of New York city. It’s sudden. And completely unexpected. Who is it? Why war? And better yet? Why New York? All great questions. Bushwick won’t win any awards from the Deep Thinker’s Institute (Is that a thing? If it is, my apologies to the esteemed institute) for giving us a deep moral framework to work from here. But it does ask some very good, basic questions, while figuring out how to keep us on the edge of our seats for 90 minutes straight, start to finish.
A High Level Look at Bushwick’s Plot
If you haven’t seen this movie yet, HERE BE DRAGONS, ok? The rest of this post will be spoiler material. Go find it, and watch it, then come back.
The story is simple enough, Lucy (Brittany Snow) and Jose are getting off the subway to go and visit Lucy’s family for the first time. They are in love. And it’s oh so sweet. Until, 30 seconds into the movie, gun fire rips through the movie and Jose steps out from the underground (no, wait, that’s what it’s called in London… what do New Yorkers call… ah, sub way. My bad.) only to have his head basically blown off. (I do have to say that Lucy mourns so little for Jose, that I wonder if she really liked him at all! Seriously, this is my one major gripe with this entire movie… sure, lot’s going on. Sure, she needs to survive. But she never mentions him again. Boom, gone. Literally – the boom part I mean.)
And just like that, Lucy is in frantic completely feral survival mode.
One of the things I was really surprised at as the movie rolled? It seemed like the entirety of the movie was shot by one camera in one enormous long take like the movie Victoria, which is another amazing movie if you haven’t seen it yet. But then I started noticing what the editor was doing. Every now and again the camera would sweep to the ground and then back up again, or pan to a wall and then back out again, and that was where they were hiding their cuts. So in that way, the movie was shot just like Birdman. The apparent single-shot-ness of it gives the movie immediacy/intensity/urgency all the while ratcheting up the feel that you are right there with Lucy as she is running down the street while people die all around her.
Not to mention the fact that someone just took over a section of the city in New York to make a war zone? How did this happen?!?!
Soon, Lucy runs into a basement two get away from two men that capture her. They definitely mean her ill. When, out of nowhere, the owner of the house comes through and kills both the guys. Viewing audience, meet Stupe, played by Dave Bautista… all throughout the movie as I watched, I kept thinking he looked familiar but I just couldn’t place him. Ah, yes, I remember now… Guardians of the Galaxy. He is also apparently in Blade Runner 2049. Which looks out of control. ANYWAY. STAY ON TARGET DANGIT. And now, poor Stupe, and ex-marine, can’t shake Lucy now. No good deed goes unpunished after all.
And from here on out the fun never stops. The two run down city streets, climb through abandoned war torn buildings, fight their way up Lucy’s high school to the roof. It’s one frenetic scene after another. A few of the plot points we cover as they are trying to stay alive is that they aren’t sure what is going on. They guess that maybe it’s a widespread war across sections of the United States. Maybe there is a DMZ where they can get to safety. And then they capture a young man from the insurrectionist group that is causing all this chaos. And apparently, like a plot line straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale, Texas is seceding from the United States. Not only that? But a number of southern states are joining them in their fight. Trust me, I’ll talk more about this in a minute.
Lucy and Stupe visit Lucy’s grandmother, who has just died from a heart attack. And then they head over to Lucy’s drugged out sister’s flat a few blocks over. And a few minutes later, the trio are caught by the mother of a few gang members. Here’s the problem, they need to get word to a priest at a church (who apparently has a ton of people but no guns) a couple blocks over that they have guns to donate to the cause. But, they decide to hold onto Lucy’s sister until they all meet up together at the laundromat nearby. Obviously, the level of crazy ramps up a few notches between here in there. That priest they were looking for? Commits suicide in front of Lucy. And Stupe? Well, he makes it to the laundromat only to be shot by a scared woman in the bathroom.
As the movie barrels its way to the end nightfall is upon us and Lucy and her sister get tantalizingly close to the DMZ. The fighting gets harried and full of close quarter chaos. But ultimately the movie ends with the two of them getting shot down just in sight of their safety…
Apparently, Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion got the idea for the movie Bushwick when former governor Rick Perry made an off handed comment about Texas seceding from the United States. Intrigued, I went and found one of the quotes specifically:
Shannon: Some have associated you with the idea of secession or sovereignty for your state. …
Perry: I think there’s a lot of different scenarios. Texas is a unique place. When we came in the union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that. You know, my hope is that America and Washington in particular pays attention. We’ve got a great union. There is absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what may come out of that? But Texas is a very unique place and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.
This was in 2009. 8 years ago. Right? So that would be at the beginning of the Obama presidency. And, now, here we are at the beginning of the Trump presidency (or nearer to the end, who knows. Woah, meaning he might be impeached… don’t read too much into that comment! Seemed a little dodgy upon rereading it.) and we have riots in Charlottesville. Racial tensions have enflamed and exploded over the last couple months. And now we have this movie Bushwick asking an intellectually curious thought question. What would happen if?
Most people reviewing Bushwick are giving it grief for it’s lack of mental fortitude. But I would beg to differ. And just hear me out for a minute. Sure, it is basically non-stop action from beginning to end. And sure the amount of dialogue in this movie could barely fit in a thimble. Think for a moment though about what we do get delivered to us in Bushwick.
Lucy wakes up in a free country. And within a couple of hours her fiancé is dead and she is running for her life. We know that this chaos inflicted on her life is caused by secessionists intent on separating from the United States. In the one conversation that we get between us and them we hear how these secessionists have decided that Brooklyn is an easy target especially since guns are illegal there. Stupe ends the conversation with something to the effect… what a waste, and then knocks him out.
Now think about today and where things stand from a political viewpoint. Not the individual planks of each side’s platform or specifics. But rather from an inability to converse or find common ground. Personally, I believe that guns in someone’s house makes their house intrinsically more dangerous to walk into. Regardless of their argument that it protects them from intruders, or whatever. If you believe that, we disagree. But could you and I discuss it in a sane and rational way and come to a middle ground? Ten years ago? Definitely. Today, I highly doubt it. (Please don’t take issue with my specific example, my point remains.)
But why? Lauren sent me a fantastic link just the other day talking about how individuals are less and less likely to interact with news that is in opposition to their viewpoint. This is especially true for those that prefer misinformation. Or “fake news”. Not only that, but when their preferred view is debunked, it entrenches them even more in that viewpoint… they don’t actually receive the new information and adjust their view accordingly. And in this one quick conversation between Stupe and this nameless secessionist we see this being played out, but this time over life and death stakes.
All that to say, we joke about how terrible the other side is. We joke about what an idiot the other side is. But realistically, we are all humans. We are all living together on this big blue ball hanging in the sky. We are ultimately all the same regardless of color, socio-economic status, education. We are all the same. And we really do need to find a way to listen to each other and even if we don’t agree, we need to find a way to get along.