Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson heads Setup, a gang / drug / crime fest of a film. As appealing as this mix may be (give or take the 50 Cent part depending on your musical taste), the film often feels somewhat empty and stereotypical.
Jackson stars as Sonny, a wronged friend and man intent on seeking his revenge. What caused him such upset? Friend Vincent (Ryan Phillippe) set their motley crew of three up, murdered one third of their gang and left Sonny for dead. Tsk tsk. Cue a rapid recovery from a nigh fatal shot to the shoulder and some revelatory snooping and soon Sonny is face to face with criminal underworld big wig Biggs (Bruce Willis). Lies and corruption follow, with some unnecessary twists, before a stilted finale.
Jackson’s monotonous voice-over adds little to the story. We hear of his lust for vengeance but his demeanour is nothing angrier than a man who’s stubbed his toe. Scene follows scene with no real throttle whilst he provides just enough thrust to carry the movie forward. Unfortunately Willis isn’t given enough screen time. Instead of providing us with a multi-dimensional picture of a hard man who must learn to live with his guilt, his character becomes a parody of previous movie gangsters.
Humour is smattered throughout the film and is, refreshingly, dealt with quite well. There’s accidental gun shots and a couple of witty lines that suggest what could have been had the film been preened of its dead matter. In trying to jazz itself up it only succeeds in reminding you what the film lacks. We’re pointing here to the ill-used on screen labelling, the labels themselves drawing attention to just how stereotypical some of its minor characters are (The Butcher – Cockney geez who hacks up people’s leftovers, The Driver – Scheming female, The Muscle – Need we go on?).
As the film nears its finale it makes some questionable use of foley (Jackson and Phillippe having apparently donned aural high heels of sorts to chase each other) and presents an unsatisfying conclusion which deems its now seemingly obligatory start-at-the-beginning trick pointless. Although not an entirely bad apple, Setup leaves much to be desired.