Bringing her boyfriend home to meet the grandmother who raised her, it seems like a normal day for college student Lucy (Brittany Snow) as she steps off the subway train in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighbourhood. The station seems a little deserted and in the distance they can hear the sounds of helicopters and police sirens but, as a character later comments, that’s normal for Brooklyn.

Then a man staggers past them in flames.

Moments later, her boyfriend brutally killed, Lucy is running for her life, stepping over bodies, dodging snipers and avoiding burning cars and buildings as a black-clad invading armed militia roams the streets of Brooklyn, rounding up and executing civilians. Chased into a seemingly abandoned building by a couple of opportunistic looters intent on raping and murdering her, Lucy is saved by taciturn janitor Stupe (Dave Bautista), a former marine combat medic who’s practically withdrawn from the world.

Begging him to help her, the initially reluctant Stupe eventually agrees to escort Lucy the five city blocks to grandma’s house. But there’s worse out there than the big, bad wolf and it’s open guerrilla warfare on the streets as the neighbourhood fights back against its attackers. But as Lucy comments: “Who the fuck invades Bushwick?”

Who the fuck indeed? Looking at an America torn apart by racial and cultural division, an America that seems to be teetering on the very brink of a Second Civil War, Bushwick’s cheeky premise feels almost like a documentary: a 21st century Confederacy of Red States, led by Texas, secedes from the Union, their first act of rebellion striking first at the soft, multiethnically diverse cities of the North. They don’t reckon of course on the good citizens of Bushwick fighting back against their redneck invaders and the streets devolving into chaos and anarchy.

If Bushwick’s ripped-from-the-headlines, 15-minutes-into-the-future plot feels far-fetched to you, then you probably haven’t been paying enough attention to recent news reports of outgunned police forces left with no choice but to surrender control of the streets to heavily armed right-wing militias taking up arms to protect the right to free speech and assembly of America’s modern day Nazis, Cooties directors Cary Munion and Jonathan Milott inspired to make the film by reports that, in the aftermath of Obama’s election, then Texas Governor Rick Perry genuinely advocated secession from the Union. Of course that was long before America voted for a less witty, less intelligent Archie Bunker to be their POTUS. In real life, Bushwick’s invaders have probably already won without firing a shot.

In most respects Bushwick could almost be the reactionary wet dream of the racists marching and murdering in Charlottesville: a group of ordinary American patriots are forced to take up arms and defend themselves and their neighbourhood against an army of invading aggressors intent on destroying their way of life. In most respects. Crucially however, the ordinary Americans fighting back in Nick Damici and Graham Reznick’s lean, mean script aren’t the Aryan Übermenschen dreamt of by America’s Alt-Right but the ethnically and culturally diverse inhabitants of a working class New York neighbourhood, the local Hassidic Jews taking down one group of invaders with bottles and clubs and hastily made Molotov cocktails while the local gangbangers, essentially good boys who still live at home with their Moms, break out the automatic weapons in order to arm the defenceless citizens sheltering from the chaos in the local church. In Bushwick, the only whining the Nazi poster boys do is when former wrestler, and current Guardian Of The Galaxy, Bautista steps on their heads.

Filmed in a series of long, shaky, hand held, shots cut together to look like one long continuous take enfolding in real time, Murnion and Milott’s conceit works far more effectively here than it did in the hugely overrated Birdman, lending Bushwick immediacy, a boots-on the-ground visual aesthetic familiar from conflict reporting from around the world, placing the audience at the heart of the mayhem, the claustrophobic soundscape littered with random, sudden gunfire, whirling helicopters, burning cars and police sirens adding to the film’s post-apocalyptic, dystopian atmosphere.

The performances are solid, Angelic Zambrana’s stoned hipster sister providing some much needed comic relief while Bautista brings a wounded vulnerability, a melancholy soulfulness, to his prototypically American action man, here almost waltzing off with the film as he reveals the melancholy at the heart of his bearlike character. But, almost unbelievably it’s Snow who gifts the film it’s finest turn, her privileged white college student believably transforming into a figurehead of guerrilla resistance as she embraces her burgeoning political awareness and leads the fight back.

You could, if you were to so please, poke holes in Murnion and Millott’s, all day long but that would be missing the point. Perhaps the year’s most angry, politically astute feature film, Bushwick’s social conscience never allows itself to get in the way of its gritty, low-budget thrills.

Movie Review: Bushwick
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