×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Bomb City’

A punks-versus-jocks cultural clash edges inexorably toward violence in Jameson Brooks' impressive debut feature.

Director:
Jameson Brooks
With:
Dave Davis, Glenn Morshower, Logan Huffman, Lorelei Linklater, Eddie Hassell, Henry Knotts, Maemae Renfrow, Dominic Ryan Gabriel, Luke Shelton, Marilyn Manson.

1 hour, 39 minutes

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4351548/

Bomb City,” a potently riveting drama by first-time feature filmmaker Jameson Brooks, spins the tragic tale of a punks-versus-jocks cultural clash that steadily builds to a furious altercation, with mortal consequences. In synopsis, it might sound like an updated version of “The Outsiders,” S.E. Hinton’s enduringly popular 1967 novel, which Francis Coppola memorably adapted in 1983 with a dream cast of young up-and-comers. But Brooks’ film, which the director co-wrote with Sheldon R. Chick, actually has its roots in real-life events of nearly two decades ago, and arguably cuts deeper as it methodically and relentlessly fashions a chain of actions and repercussions.

The apt title refers to the ironic nickname given Amarillo, Texas, site of the only nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly plant in the United States. But much of the film indicates another meaning: In 1999, two hostile cliques of Amarillo teenagers — clean-cut high-school football players on one hand, brazenly rebellious punk rockers on the other — are engaged in a cold war that always seems just one out-of-control encounter away from bloody mayhem.

Right from the start, Brooks — who, not incidentally, grew up in Amarillo, and shot this movie there — signals the inevitability of an explosion with sporadic scenes from an after-the-fact murder trial. A self-righteous defense attorney (Glenn Morshower) does his best to demonize a deceased punk rocker as a menace to society who was “destined” to be killed by some upstanding citizen (like the attorney’s client) in order to protect decent citizens from such vermin.

The audience gets an appreciably more evenhanded view of things whenever “Bomb City” flashes back from the courtroom. Brooks offers teasing suggestions — most notably, during a sequence that intercuts brutal slamdancing in a mosh pit with full-contact Friday night football — that the two seemingly disparate social circles might intersect more often than anyone could imagine. And while the movie’s sympathies are obviously weighted toward the punk contingent, Brooks doesn’t let either group off easy: In both camps, there is at least one reckless hothead with a dangerous penchant for lighting fuses.

As “Bomb City” proceeds, Brian (well played by Dave Davis), a punk poet with a raging Mohawk coiffure and a surprisingly close relationship with his loving parents, emerges as the protagonist of the piece. On the other side of the cultural divide, there’s Cody (Luke Shelton), a macho-deficient football player who endures merciless teasing from his heartier and heavier-drinking comrades, and tries just a little too hard to be as bad as he wants to be.

There are signs that these two are intended to come off as equally important counterpoints. Unfortunately, despite Shelton’s game performance, his character is too sketchily developed to have the dramatic weight he should. It might have helped if he had a tad more screen time — or at least a sympathy-building scene equivalent to the one in which Brian and his girlfriend, Jade (Maemae Renfro), adopt a cute puppy.

Yes, you read that correctly: They bring home a sweet little doggie. It’s one of the few heavy-handed touches in “Bomb City,” a film that for the most part manages to avoid clichés while evoking and sustaining, even during relatively lighthearted scenes, a clammy sense of dread.

Brooks demonstrates an instinctive appreciation for what buttons to push and what levers to pull in order to ratchet up suspense, particularly when a police pursuit of graffiti artists gradually escalates into a worst-case scenario. The overriding air of foreboding is stealthily intensified by the chilly musical score credited to scripter Sheldon R. Chick and his brother, Cody Chick, and by the evocative lensing of Jake Wilganowski.

“Bomb City” will keep you in its grasp during every moment leading to its climactic violence. And it won’t let go until the closing credits roll.

Film Review: 'Bomb City'

Reviewed online, Houston, Feb. 4, 2018. (In Dallas International Film Festival.) Running time: 99 MIN.

Production: A Gravitas Ventures release of a 3rd Identity production. Producers: Sheldon R. Chick, Major Dodge. Executive producers: Major Dodge, Steve Silver, Chad Cunningham, Libby Hunt, Norman Preskitt, Shelle Graves, Shawn Gros, Matt Chiasson, Joda Pyle, Mark Rosenberg, Greg Anderson, Judson Preskitt, Henry Melton.

Crew: Director, editor: Jameson Brooks. Screenplay: Sheldon R. Chick, Brooks. Camera (color): Jake Wilganowski. Music: Cody Chick, Sheldon R. Chick.

With: Dave Davis, Glenn Morshower, Logan Huffman, Lorelei Linklater, Eddie Hassell, Henry Knotts, Maemae Renfrow, Dominic Ryan Gabriel, Luke Shelton, Marilyn Manson.

More Film

  • wanda Movie Metropolis Qingdao

    Why Simon West is Making Movies in China (EXCLUSIVE)

    British director Simon West (“Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” “Con Air,” “The Expendables 2”) is set to further into the Middle Kingdom at the helm of his second Chinese action-adventure blockbuster. The Wanda-backed “The Legend Hunters,” hits theaters next summer. West was brought onto the project by veteran producer Eryong, who had approached him about a [...]

  • The Eight Hundred

    History Rethink Group Key to 'Eight Hundred' Shanghai Cancellation (EXCLUSIVE)

    Chinese authorities may have abruptly yanked Huayi Brothers’ $80 million patriotic war epic “The Eight Hundred” the day before its debut as the Shanghai Intl. Film Festival’s opening film because it didn’t portray rivals of the ruling Communist Party in a sufficiently negative light, local reports said. Huayi on Friday attributed the cancellation of its [...]

  • Simon West

    Simon West Directing Chinese Tomb-Raid Movie “Legend Hunters’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    The British director Simon West, who made Angelina Jolie-starring “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” is now co-directing a Chinese tomb-raiding film. “The Legend Hunters” is the next instalment in the “Mojin” universe based on the popular fantasy novel series “Ghost Blows Out the Light.” Backed by Wanda Pictures and Beijing-based Saints Entertainment, the film is set [...]

  • Emu Runner

    Sydney Film Review: 'Emu Runner'

    Writer-director Imogen Thomas’ debut feature “Emu Runner” has and probably will play in designated family-themed strands of film festivals, and given its story of a 9-year-old Aboriginal girl who deals with grief in the wake of her mother’s death by bonding with a lone female representative of Australia’s largest native bird species, this programming strategy [...]

  • Sophia Antipolis

    Locarno in Los Angeles Film Review: 'Sophia Antipolis'

    There are two Sophias in French director Virgil Vernier’s clever, cunning, chilling fifth feature. The first is its setting, the eponymous “Sophia Antipolis,” a technology park in the south of France, a place self-consciously designed as an experiment in social engineering, where an international community of professionals would, it was hoped, create an environment of [...]

  • I Lost My Body

    Netflix Pickup ‘I Lost My Body,’ ‘Buñuel,’ ‘Away’ Top Annecy Festival

    ANNECY, France  — Fulfilling expectations, Jeremy Clapin’s “I Lost My Body, the subject of one of the highest-profile Netflix deals at this year’s Cannes, won this Saturday the Annecy Festival’s top Cristal Award of best feature plus, in a relatively rare Annecy double whammy, the festival’s Audience Award. The first was expected, the second a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content