Cinematic Releases: Bomb City (2018) - Reviewed

I usually start a review with a euphemism; something in my life that I can relate to the movie that I’m reviewing. This film just struck a raw nerve for me that I couldn’t compose myself immediately after seeing it.

Jameson Brooks’ Bomb City is a story of Hollywood legend – two groups of high school-aged students who oppose one another until it leads to a tragic conclusion. The opposing context in this film is between the moral fiber of a conservative community and that of a group of punk rockers. The film is based on a true story from 1997 of a hate crime that questions the morality of the justice system. 

The accounts of what actually happened have been contested, but the screenplay by Jamie Brooks and Sheldon Chick doesn’t shy away from those events. I confess to not knowing anything about this situation going into this film. Not knowing the outcome made the outcome that much more powerful. To be fair, even if people know of the death of then-19-year-old Brian Deneke.

Mr. Brooks chose to frame the story through Ricky’s (Logan Huffman) trial, using flashbacks to allow us to get to know not only Brian, but the other characters within the story. By framing it this way, Mr. Brooks and Mr. Chick offer us an opportunity to get to know Mr. Deneke, to understand who he was as a person. It also allowed us to understand the politics involved leading up to the attack. 

Texas is an extremely conservative state, and the further north you get, the more conservative it gets. Because our opinions of others are only formed based on what they look like or how they act, we don’t give each other the chance to actually understand what makes another human being tick, which leads to situations such as this. 

While the film doesn’t cover any new ground related to hate crimes, it is an important statement in how it approaches this particular hate crime. How others reacted to the events during the trial really drive home the point that we are all different. And though the justice system failed Brian, the film stands as a testament to who he was as a person, to the impact his story has on us as a society. 

What follows is a quote that I think sums up the film, and to what Brian Deneke’s murder has to say to us as a society: “People fear what they don’t understand and hate what they can’t conquer.” – Andrew Smith. 

In a limited theatrical release and on major VOD platforms on February 9th (pre-order on iTunes here), Bomb City should be required viewing in schools because we should no longer hate each other. We are, all of us, unique individuals. And, respect that, we must. 

Share this review.

-Ben Cahlamer