Bomb City Review

Bomb City is a 2018 crime drama about about the cultural aversion of a group of punk rockers in a conservative Texas town and heir ongoing battle with a rival, more-affluent clique.

Back in 1997, in the parking lot of an International House of Pancakes, violence, long simmering, broke out, ending in tragedy. While in the scheme of things, especially in American culture, it is but a mere blip on the radar of such matters, it is significant nonetheless, illustrating the wide gap that exists in young people searching for identity and the consequences of such when being different inspires the worst in those involved. It’s a Hollywood staple, with seemingly countless titles giving these conflicts plenty of play. Jameson Brooks‘ latest Bomb City takes the main ingredients of these movies and layers in some devastating truths, painting a genuinely harrowing tale that raises troubling questions, many that have lingered for twenty years.

It’s 1997 and Brian Deneke (Dave Davis) is a punk. Literally. He looks exactly as you’re picturing him, with a studded leather jacket, choker, and a big pointed mohawk. He rides a shoddy looking skateboard. He’s the lead singer of a band called The White Slave Traders. He’s not liked by the school jocks. In Amarillo, Texas, nicknamed Bomb City for being a US nuclear weapons disassembly site, it’s all about high school football and the town’s team are popular boys with a lot of clout. On the opposite side of the tracks, per se, is a growing population of punks, who define themselves by being completely different from the pack, which leads to increasing tension between them and the jocks. It comes to a head one night in a horrifying act of violence, and an even more troubling aftermath.

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Jameson spends much of the time with Brian, as he should, carefully taking us through his daily life, from supportive parents and friends to a lifestyle of mostly harmless personal anarchy, tagging bridges with spray paint and playing his music. Because of how he looks and who he hangs with, he and his friends are easy targets, harrassed on the streets by jocks who drive by throwing beer bottles while cops in droves raid their warehouse apartment. They aren’t entirely innocent, but they are given ample reasons to feel like outcasts.

It’s an uncompromising look at the build up to what is essentially a terrifying hate crime, and Jameson generates plenty of anxiety as we grow ever closer to it. Brian is generally a good kid (nineteen years old), entirely misunderstood by those who want to be his enemy. Jocks are, as we’ve seen in so many films like this, the heavies, one-dimensional scumbags with all the girls and fun, though Jameson is careful not to fall too far into that trap, giving some depth to the main antagonist Cody (Luke Shelton), who shock his friends (and himself) with his attitude and much more, his actions, even as the general hatred between these groups remains mostly left to generalities. We really already know. That’s the point. 

The film is told in flashback, the main setting a courtroom where a hardened lawyer (Glenn Morshower) puts punks and jocks on the stand, each retelling their side of the story. It’s the film’s only real distraction, feeling a bit unnecessary even if the outcome of said trail is important. However, it’s a minor bend in a film that is more on point than most of its kind. The message is clear. The violence is tragic. Johnson doesn’t exploit it, letting it unfold without a false note, leaving us paralyzed by what we’re witnessing. It’s sensational filmmaking.

Bomb City is a smart, well made film, inspiring conversation hopefully in those that matter most. It’s a telling story of tolerance that really ought to be seen more than it will be.

Bomb City Review

Movie description: Bomb City is a 2018 crime drama about about the cultural aversion of a group of punk rockers in a conservative Texas town and heir ongoing battle with a rival, more-affluent clique.  

Director(s): Jameson Brooks (as Jamie Brooks)

Actor(s): Dave Davis, Glenn Morshower, Logan Huffman

Genre: Drama

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