Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson stars in this bland and generic crime ‘thriller’ which tries to compensate for what it lacks in plot with extra blood and violence. It will come as no surprise to learn that this effort went straight to DVD upon release and clocking in at just under 80 minutes, it would appear even the director ran out of interest midway through.
The plot sees a trio of childhood friends; Sonny (Fiddy), Vince (Ryan Phillippe) and Dave (Brett Granstaff) carry out a diamond heist that seems set to make them their millions. Vince has other ideas however and doubles crosses his old friends shooting them both and leaving them for dead. Dave snuffs it right away but Sonny pulls through and sets out to hunt Vince down and get his revenge. Sonny comes up against several road blocks along the way with various sordid underworld types getting involve until finally he forms an uneasy alliance with heartless mob boss Biggs (Bruce Willis). The film then becomes a melting pot of criminal clichés, each one hunting another for assorted spurious reasons. The whole murky scenario seems destined to end in bloodshed but will it be Sonny or Vince left alive at the end?
I’ve given you the basic plot points there but even in that brief synopsis it feels like I’ve padded it out a fair bit. To be honest, “Fiddy gets shot by a mate but lives and so hunts mate down with surprising ease”, would probably suffice. After a vaguely promising opening ten minutes things go into a sharp decline and in places, Setup really is a sorry mess. Plot strands are left unanswered, characters with no purpose are thrown in at random and I think somewhere along the line there is an attempt at a religious subtext but that soon gets forgotten too. How did the gang escape a crowded street in broad daylight in a bright white van with such ease? Why does Fiddy spend the film hunting down people who know Vince just to get them to pass on threatening messages? What purpose does ‘The Assassin’ serve? All these questions are left up in the air as the films only real interest seems to be in getting Fiddy in positions where he can pistol whip someone and then run off.
Matters aren’t helped by the fact that Fiddy is front and centre for the majority of the film. Jackson isn’t a terrible actor by any means but he sure as hell isn’t a leading man either. He mumbles and swaggers his way through the film with bravado in abundance but he’s just lacking in the necessary charisma to pull off the role of action hero. Ryan Phillippe does his best to act the tough guy but isn’t fooling anybody and Randy Couture is lost amongst a sea of thick-necked heavies. I can only assume Bruce Willis got paid a shedload of money to take on the role of Biggs as he has very little to do in the film except act cold and aloof whilst instructing minions to torture rival gang members. That being said, he’s head and shoulders the best thing about the film and at least looks like he wants to be there unlike some people, Mr Phillippe we’re looking in your direction.
There’s also a candidate for least dramatic shootout ever in an action film towards the film end. The director opts for the lesser known ‘get it over with as quickly as possible’ option rather than injecting any tension into proceedings. It’s honestly like he was desperately trying to keep it under the 80 minute mark at all costs.
Boring, predictable and just plain shoddy plot wise, Setup is for die hard 50cent fans only. It’s definitely one that Willis, Phillippe and heck, even Fiddy will soon want expunging from their filmography.
Setup is out on DVD & blu-ray 17th October 2011.
Director: Mike Gunther
Writers: Mike Behrman, Mike Gunther
Stars:50 Cent, Bruce Willis, Ryan Phillippe
Runtime: 90 min