Bomb City succeeds at being a real gut-punch of a crime drama.
Published on October 14, 2022
Rating 3.5 /5
Bomb City takes place in a Texas town that is brimming with youthful rage. There’s a battle of perspectives on America. Jocks believe the American dream is best found through football, booze, and trust in the system. Punks embrace a rebellious side of partying, fighting authority, and being highly skeptical of the American system that makes life in rural Texas seem pointless. The fact that this is based on a true story makes it all the more infuriating.
Inspired by the death of Brian Deneke, the film takes place in Amarillo, Texas. Framed as a court case, we learn of a bitter feud that took a dark turn in this Texas town. The town was known for being the home to a nuclear weapons facility. That’s enough to fill anyone with certain hopelessness for their future. So it’s more than understandable why Brian (Dave Davis) feels the need to strike out in any way to make his voice heard. He adopts the punk lifestyle to the extreme. Spikey mohawk, leather jacket, angry rock music, vandalism, drinking, smoking, the works. He hangs out with like-minded punks who both encourage his rebelliousness and provide backup with their many encounters with jocks and cops.
The punk scene of rural Texas is treated with bitter honesty. Their world is drab and depressing, loaded with empty nothingness and a boring sense of life going nowhere. Punks reside in the decaying structure of an industrial age that has long since died, where the industry of the military-industrial conflict has crafted a bleak future for those trapped in this black hole. Life seems so drab that the slightest sparks bring about flames. Something as simple as Brian making fellatio gestures toward the jocks can inspire a fight within seconds with no hope of curbing this situation. Even the shop owner of the diner can do little more than shifting the fight to the parking lot.
The parking lot would unfortunately lead to Brian’s demise via vehicular manslaughter. As the court case divulges more info, we learn that there’s no singular force that turned this community into a pit of hate. The nuke factory is a factor but not the one answer. The wage disparity is an issue but that comes bundled with hopelessness for the future. The American justice system is also called into question, where increased police response does more to escalate situations rather than bring peace. This is a town that is overflowing with hate amid its culture clash, where the bomb that sets it off was more a matter of when than if.
Jameson Brooks directs this film with a frank and humanist nature. We get to see and understand the collective of Brian’s punk sphere in a way that other filmmakers probably would have glossed over. As we learn throughout the accounts of the story, Brian wasn’t just an angry young man. He had a family who had mixed feelings about his life choices but tender emotions for the kid growing up. He had a love in his life that he shared while indulging in the joys of owning a puppy. The film aims to make the punk scene more real and empathetic rather than the rebellious villains so much of the media makes them out to be.
Bomb City succeeds at being a real gut-punch of a crime drama. It taps into something angering while also feeling sobering. It’s intense yet sad how it portrays an unfair justice system in an unfair town. This is a strong type of filmmaking that takes great aim at how the youth of today didn’t start the fire yet receives all the blame for the bombs that will explode because of it.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.