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Mike Gunther
Bruce Willis, Ryan Phillippe, 50 Cent, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, James Remar, Randy Couture
Writing Credits:
Mike Gunther, Mike Behrman

A group of friends plan out a detailed heist that turns deadly when one betrays the other by taking off with the goods. Taking matters into his own hands, Sonny seeks out his revenge teaming up with the most dangerous mob boss in town to get back what is rightfully his. When he finally comes face to face with his longtime friend he will be forced to make a life changing choice.

Box Office:
$22 million.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 85 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 9/20/2011

• Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Mike Gunther and Stunt Coordinator Kyle Woods
• “Making Set Up” Featurette
• “Inside the Gun Locker: The Weapons of Set Up” Featurette
• Interviews with Cast and Crew
• Previews and Trailer h


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Setup [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 6, 2011)

Today’s entry in the “Big-Name Actor Goes Straight to Video” genre: Bruce Willis in 2011’s Set Up. The film takes us to Detroit in the middle of winter, and we meet a handful of old pals. The group includes Sonny (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson), Vincent (Ryan Phillippe) and Dave (Brett Granstaff).

They’re more than just drinking buddies, however, and we stage them stage a daring mid-day robbery in which they make off with a briefcase full of diamonds. This goes fine except for loose cannon Vincent adds murder to the potential charges – and then goes rogue as he attempts to kill his friends and make off with all the loot.

Vincent does murder Dave, but Sonny manages to survive. This puts him behind various 8-balls. While Sonny wants to find Vincent and get revenge, a hit man named Roth (Shaun Toub) warns Sonny to return the diamonds within a week or suffer dire consequences. In addition, mob boss Biggs (Willis) doesn’t take kindly to all these activities; he tells Sonny to retrieve $2 million from some Russians. Inevitable complications come along with all these endeavors as we follow Sonny’s path.

Although my opening paragraph – and the Blu-ray’s case – might lead one to view Set Up as a Bruce Willis movie, that’s not really the case. He plays a relatively small supporting role, and Jackson carries the heaviest load.

Too bad he can’t carry it well. Though he’s a bit more natural than he was when he debuted in 2005, Jackson still shows no signs of real dramatic talent. I’m not even sure why he still gets work as an actor, though he also operated as producer here and on 2010’s Gun, so I guess he likes to hire himself.

Jackson the producer needs to learn that Jackson the actor stinks and shouldn’t be in any more movies. He shows no on-screen personality and can’t handle any parts of the roles he plays. Even when asked to seem tough and threatening – traits that seem to be in his repertoire from his rapping persona – Jackson just comes across as a big nothing. He’s consistently awkward and stiff, and that’s at his best; when he attempts emotion, he’s downright laughable.

Not that Set Up would’ve been better with a superior lead, as everything about it flops. Most of the time, the film feels like a self-conscious amalgam of other – superior – works. Co-writer/director Mike Gunther shows no ability to create a coherent story.

Instead, Set Up delivers a barely-connected set of episodes, none of which go much of anywhere. The movie gallumphs from one scene to another with a surprising absence of logic or smoothness. It feels edited almost at random and the story never comes together in any meaningful way.

It doesn’t help that even when viewed on their own, the various scenes seem clumsy and amateurish. The sequences in the church border on unintentional hilarity given their stilted nature, and I’d like to know who thought the name “Mr. Biggs” was especially clever.

The lack of inspiration affects even the movie’s camerawork. While Set Up comes blissfully free from the usual shakycam, Gunther favors quick zoom cuts that give shots an annoying jumpy feel. These follow the usual attempts at documentary immediacy, but they flop. They simply call attention to themselves and take us out of the movie.

Or they would if we ever felt involved in the story in the first place. With one silly and pointless scene after another, there’s nothing positive at work here. Often I’ll find some potential in a film; even some of the crummiest movies have a kernel of inspiration. I can’t do that here, as Set Up delivers a poorly-executed and derivative experience.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus C

Set Up appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was usually a pretty terrific presentation.

My only minor complaint related to shadow detail, as low-light shots tended to be somewhat thick and heavy. I suspect that this was mostly intentional, but it created some unappealing shots along the way. Many of the concerns affected African-American actors, as they could get lost in the murk. Since the lead character fell into that category, the issue became more noticeable.

Otherwise, the image worked very well. Sharpness was virtually immaculate. Even the widest shots looked well-defined and distinctive, without jaggies or shimmering. I noticed no edge haloes, and the movie lacked print flaws.

Set in cold, harsh Detroit, one wouldn’t expect a dynamic palette from Set Up. Chilly blues ruled the day, though interiors went with a warmer amber look much of the time. Within the film’s production design, these looked fine, and blacks seemed dark and tight. Really, only the murky low-light shots caused any concern; otherwise this was a strong image.

I thought the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked nicely as well. The soundfield opened up best during action scenes, as those used guns and vehicles to create a lively setting. Other sequences delivered a nice sense of place and environment.

Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed concise and distinctive, while music was bright and clear. Effects also appeared accurate and dynamic, with good impact across the board. Though the soundfield wasn’t quite involving enough for “A”-level consideration, this was still a strong mix.

Despite its low profile, Set Up comes with a decent array of supplements. We open with an audio commentary from co-writer/director Mike Gunther and stunt coordinator Kyle Woods. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific examination of sets and locations, stunts and action, cast and performances, music and editing, and a few other areas.

Very few, in fact - not that they tell us much about the rest of the film. A slow-paced track, the guys throw out the occasional banal remark amid a lot of dead air. They talk about how great and fun all involved were and even deliver the occasional semi-useful nugget - but only occasional. This is a sluggish commentary that doesn't deliver enough information to make it worthwhile.

Some featurettes fill out the set. Making Set Up goes for nine minutes, 17 seconds and includes notes from Gunther, and actors Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Randy Couture. The show looks at story and characters, cast and performances, and general thoughts. No information of substance emerges here. We get a few mildly interesting shots from the set but otherwise this is a fluffy snoozer.

Inside the Gun Locker: The Weapons of Set Up lasts three minutes, 37 seconds and features assistant prop master Matthew Stratton. He takes us on a tour of the firepower featured in the flick. This becomes a better program than its immediate predecessor, but it’s still not especially fascinating.

Under Interviews with Cast and Crew, we get three clips. We hear from Gunther (12:27), Jackson (8:33) and Couture (3:36). Gunther discusses aspects of the film’s development and story as well as other production areas. Jackson chats about his role and aspects of his career, while Couture does the same. The Gunther and Jackson bits sag at times but deliver a reasonable amount of information. Couture’s piece is less interesting.

The disc opens with ads for Hostage, House of the Rising Sun, Blood Out and Caught in the Crossfire. These appear under Also from Lionsgate as well, and the disc tosses in the trailer for Set Up too.

While I like gritty crime movies, I can’t find anything of worth in Set Up. Chock full of amateurish filmmaking and acting, the movie never becomes anything even vaguely interesting or compelling. The Blu-ray delivers very good picture and audio, though, and it also tosses in some generally mediocre supplements that include one of the least interesting audio commentaries I’ve screened in a while. Although this is a high-quality Blu-ray, the flick itself is an amateurish clunker.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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