Bushwick Blu-ray Review
Red Dawn meets Escape from New York
Bushwick delivers tense, guerrilla combat on a shoestring budget, showcasing impressively stylish directorial flair and excitingly efficient thrills.Directorial team Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion join forces once again on this, their sophomore feature, based on a script by Nick Damici (Cold in July), and Graham Reznick (Stake Land). And the end result is a surprisingly potent urban action thriller that is certainly going to have studios sitting up and paying attention to this pair when they're looking for fresh new talent to deliver the goods on a relative budget. The story kicks right into the thick of things as Brittany "Pitch Perfect" Snow's student sees the horrors of a military invasion unleashed on the streets of Bushwick, Brooklyn. With helicopters whipping past overhead and black-clad military units shooting up the streets, whilst gangs run riot amongst the few people left alive, she finds an unlikely partner in Dave Bautista's janitor, who may just have enough tricks up his sleeve to get them across the city.Shot guerrilla-style (almost first-person, as if you were a third character following the two leads around from building to building), with plenty of long, uninterrupted takes (much like the excellent, and similarly tense, German thriller Victoria), there's a very organic feel to both the story and the action. It's also more disaster survival flick than traditional actioner, with Bautista showing, once again (after great turns in Guardians of the Galaxy and Blade Runner 2049) that he's got more to offer than just hammering heads. The score rounds out the small scale indie gem, with a modern beat-laden urban edge to the Escape from New York vibe that only sharpens the whole tense experience. Seldom letting up in its intensity, Bushwick is a dark and memorable little thriller which shows just what you can do on a small budget with a good idea, some stylish direction, and a game cast.
Picture QualityKaleidoscope launch Bushwick onto Region B-locked UK Blu-ray with a strong, often very good 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen. It looks to have been shot digitally and the results are largely impressive, with some sharp and detailed opening aerial shots that take in the Brooklyn streets from above.
Despite the low budget this has a decent looking picture
Skin textures are well observed and clothing weaves intricate, whilst background nuances are perhaps the most impressive, as the authentic environments come to life. The colour scheme is rich and natural, afforded some strong tones. It runs a little hot, with contrast tweaked marginally for stylistic intentions, but black levels hold up as deep and strong, even in a film with quite so much pervasive dust and smoke. Considering the budgetary restrictions, and the relatively limited street-based setting, it's a decent looking picture that may not win any awards but certainly remains an engaging way to enjoy the film.
Sound QualityThere are two accompanying soundtrack options, with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track as well as a 2.0 alternative. Most will favour the 5.1 offering, and rightly so as the movie boasts a superb score and a well-designed soundtrack peppered with impressively directional elements.
There's a well-designed soundtrack to compliment the visuals
Dialogue remains firmly prioritised across the front and centre channels, delivered with precision over and above the apocalypse-like deluge, whilst the memorable score - by hip hop mainstay Aesop Rock - is its own engaging, urban beat-laden character, punctuating key sequences with just the right amount of gritty edge, but also utilising melancholy instrumental scoring to heighten tension (and frequently remind us of Escape from New York's effective minimalist score design). Effects lap up explosions from above, the whip of helicopter blades, and the thunder of seemingly incessant gunfire, whilst close-quarters brutality brings forth painful body blows. The LFE channel has a ball but it's the surround usage that most impresses, particularly for such a small-scale piece. Overall it's a very strong effort.
ExtrasA trio of Interviews with the lead cast members and the two directors offer some interesting background tidbits into the production, whilst a Featurette rounds out the behind the scenes input. There's also a Theatrical Trailer and some Previews on startup.
Blu-ray VerdictBushwick is a memorable little thriller which shows just what you can do on a small budget with a good idea, some stylish direction, and a game cast
In an age where blockbusters are often more miss than hit (and those with clever ideas often fare worst at the box office), and where remakes are the name of the game, sometimes we're reliant upon the polar opposite end of the spectrum for fresh work that makes up for its budgetary restrictions with innovative filmmaking techniques and bold storytelling. Bushwick has all these elements and more, made additionally impressive when juxtaposed with something like the Red Dawn remake, which, by comparison, boasted all the budget and none of the ideas.
This Region B-locked UK Blu-ray of Bushwick offers up very good video and excellent audio, as well as a handful of decent extras. Fans of strong little indie gems - this one with more action thrills than you normally get - should definitely check this out. It comes highly recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £9.99
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