Set smack-bang in the middle of motor city Detroit, we join Sonny (Fiddy), Vincent (Ryan Philippe) and Dave (Brett Granstaff) who are in the middle of planning out a detailed heist. It’s all going swimmingly until Vincent suddenly decides to rattle off hundreds of thousands of bullets at his two nonplussed friends. Dave dies and Sonny… well, Sonny comes out of this betrayal scene safe and seriously pissed off. In his obligatory quest for vengeance, he’s forced to team up with Bruce Willis, the most dangerous (and hairless) mob boss in town. So what if it isn’t the most realistic of narratives? With limited necessary details, two-dimensional characters and seriously rushed scenes, the gaping plotholes are the least of Setup’s worries.
First things first, the film starts off with about as much a grasp on direction as a headless chicken. We spend the first twenty minutes sticking to Vincent like a limpet and naturally assume that he is the guy that we’re meant to be rooting for. It isn’t until Fiddy Cent’s gruff and sexy narrative finally kicks in that we suddenly realise we’ve been rooting for the wrong guy all along. “Oh yeah,” you think suddenly. “We’re on this guy’s side.”
In terms of technique, the editor seems to be a huge fan of the jump cut. Everybody loves a jump cut, right? Add that to some handheld camera footage and a stark, bland colour palette and you get an instant gritty injection to events. This urban thriller is laid out bare and utterly raw although, thinking about it, it isn’t exactly difficult to make Detroit look moody and atmospheric. On this note, perhaps it’s safer to say that Setup is as unoriginal in its visual techniques as it is boring in plot.
Bruce “Oh, How The Mighty Have Fallen” Willis, despite his prominent position on the film poster, probably has the smallest and most insignificant role ever dished out. Set Up is so flawed and forgettable that it’s a struggle to stay positive, so here are some things you might enjoy or find interesting about this film: 1) 50 Cent’s amazing pearly whites 2) Vincent’s jailbird dad is played by James Remar, who also plays Samantha’s cheating boyfriend Richard in series 4-6 of Sex and the City. 3) A climactic scene with several characters pointing guns at each other acts as a very poor homage/rip off of the famous Reservoir Dogs scene. All in all, you’d probably be better off watching that.