In Adam Bhala Lough’s urban love letter “Bomb the System,” we follow Blest and his crew of bombers, graffiti artists if you will, as they run from the cops, test their loyalty to each other and of course, paint New York City red…and blue…and green…the whole spectrum. And you don’t necessarily need to be into graffiti art to appreciate this film, but it will sure help.
I appreciate graffiti art and I admire the balls the artists have in creating their pieces, under the cover of darkness, in public places. Have you ever seen a graffiti artist working on one of their pieces? Chances are, if you’re not a bomber yourself or have friends who are, you haven’t. So it boggles the mind that people can pull off such elaborate pieces of work without being caught. In a way, it’s criminal art, and I like it. Filmmaker Adam Bhala Lough apparently likes it, too, loves it even, and no doubt knows way more about it than I ever will. His passion for it fuels the story of these young artists struggling to express themselves, filling it with plenty of heart, but also a sense of urgency that’s a bit hard to swallow.
I understand that loyalty within a crew is important and that run-ins with the law are inevitable, but some of the life or death urgency of the film was just a bit much. For example, when one of Blest’s crewmembers gets roughed up by the cops, they retaliate by engaging in a hardcore tagging mission all over the city, spraying their paint cans all the more harder and faster. This scene reminded me of Kevin Bacon in “Footloose” and the scene where, after being brought down by the whole town, he performs an acrobatic dance number in an empty warehouse, dancing his anger away. It was hard to take that scene seriously back in the 80s and it’s certainly harder to take it seriously now, even though it was supposed to hit an emotional nerve in the audience; it hit a funny bone instead. I sort of felt the same way about certain scenes in “Bomb the System.” In taking itself too seriously at times, I think it comes off as a little silly.
Maybe a graffiti artist will totally connect with this film, or perhaps also think it’s a little funny in the way the subculture is represented. I just don’t know. But for the rest of us, even though it may seem a little hard to believe at times, you still can’t deny the glaring talent of Adam Bhala Lough’s cast and crew. Excellent acting, great music, amazing artwork and gorgeous Christopher Doyle type cinematography make this film an absolute treat to sit through. It’s like a big piece of candy.