Setup (2011)

If Grand Theft Auto was a movie, this is about how I would picture it. All of the free-roaming would be gone, you’d have to go on a series of linear missions, and there would be arbitrary betrayals and character turns just to keep things “intense.” Setup is all of this, and if a GTA movie ever does start to be made, it should use this film as an example of what not to do. It’s really, really bad and even though it’s only 90 minutes long, watching it felt like an eternity.

The film begins with a — you guessed it — setup. There’s a heist that’s being planned, but after it’s pulled off (it’s not thrilling even though the DVD artwork claims that it’s “dangerous”), one of the team members (Ryan Phillippe) betrays the others. He also shoots them, presumably because loose ends are not good things to keep around. Unfortunately, one of them (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) survives, and is now out for revenge. Oh, and also the $5 million worth of diamonds that they stole. That might come in handy, too.

So, he spends the next 70 minutes of the movie doing random things to random people, all while trying to hunt down the guy who betrayed him. He goes on various “missions,” he interrogates people by placing a gun to their head, and he gets in kinda deep with a mob boss (Bruce Willis, who did not deserve to be billed in a leading role considering he’s barely in the movie). It’s all basic GTA stuff, except that the time he spends traveling from location to location doesn’t exist. Consider for a moment that free-roaming was the most enjoyable part of the Grand Theft Auto games.

You look at the poster to a movie like this and you see a few things. Firstly, there are two guns. That tries to tell you that it’s an action film. There’s also fire coming out of the bottom corner, so you can guess there will be explosions. And Bruce Willis is on it, so you figure he’s in it for an extended series of events. His name is even on the poster, which must mean that he features prominently. Gee, if only movie posters didn’t try to sell you on their movie.

Firstly, while guns do figure in fairly often, they’re only rarely fired. Most of the time, they’re shoved into someone’s temple in hopes of getting them to talk. That works most of the time. There are only a couple of shootouts, none of those are interesting, and I can’t recall them ever ending in explosions. Bruce Willis is also maybe only in the film for 10 minutes, even though he steals the show for that short appearance. If he was the main character, perhaps Setup would be worth watching.

But it’s not. It’s so not. It’s not even worth discussing. There’s a reason that, somehow, a movie with Ryan Phillippe and Bruce Willis went direct to home video. It’s just that bad. It’s about a guy going around and talking to other people while sometimes holding a gun to their head. And it goes on for 90 minutes like that. And there isn’t even any tension because the film opens with the “present day” situation — where the protagonist is alive — and then flashes backward two weeks. We know that he can’t be killed!

And to top that off, there are random twists and turns in the plot that don’t make sense, aren’t foreshadowed, and also somehow don’t manage to have much of an impact on the story. They happen for the sake of shock, but once you get over that — and you will very quickly — you realize that they don’t actually make a difference and are there solely for the shock factor. There are also random elements introduced that either get forgotten about or removed so quickly that there is no reason for their inclusion.

Okay, okay, listen to this little gem: 50 Cent somehow manages to be the best actor in this movie. Explain that one to me. He’s not a good actor, normally, but here he manages to outshine Bruce Willis and Ryan Phillippe. I mean, Willis is clearly doing this for the money, and Phillippe is one of the least emotional guys still working, but they’re fairly big names. And yet 50 Cent shows more emotion and is more likable than both of them. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, to be quite honest.

There’s maybe one scene that’s worth watching, but that’s only because of how silly it is. It involves a character being stabbed to death in a prison. It’s funny only because of how many times the attacker gets to stab the man, and because of the victim’s reaction afterward. I should feel bad about laughing, but because of the way it was filmed and put together, I couldn’t. Also, the filmmakers do this weird thing of zooming in quickly and then suddenly stopping in order to emphasize … nothing, actually. It’s random, and while it occasionally looks cool, it serves no purpose and eventually becomes infuriating.

There is no reason to watch Setup. None. There is nothing here that is of any value. There is no excitement, no thrills, no lesson, and you’ll feel like you wasted your life watching it. Your entire life, even though it only lasts for just under 90 minutes. I can’t think of a more boring movie at the moment, and this one was supposed to be thrilling. It’s like watching the life slowly being sucked out of you. Actually, that would be more exciting. That would at least provide some entertainment for someone, I’d assume.

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