Setup Review

Thanks to Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and Guy Ritchie's Snatch, the smart-ass crime movie has turned into a genre of its own. Young writers/filmmakers want to recreate the magic of John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson shooting people's kneecaps and talking about the Big Mac vs. a Royale with Cheese. In Setup, it is clear that director Mike Gunther wants to make a movie with great action, dark humor, and quotable dialogue, and he has quite a lot working in his favor. Unfortunately, all of these positive elements stumble due to poor direction and an unoriginal story.

Setup opens with high school buddies Vincent (Ryan Phillippe), Sonny (50 Cent), and Dave (Brett Granstaff) planning to steal millions of dollars worth of diamonds. After the heist is done, though, Vincent shoots Sonny and Dave and takes off with the diamonds. Dave dies, but Sonny survives and starts planning his revenge on Vincent.

As I said before, Mike Gunther has a lot in his favor with this movie. He got 50 Cent and Ryan Phillippe, two up-and-coming actors, to play leading roles as well as action movie veterans Bruce Willis and Shaun Toub in supporting roles. Mike Gunther has extensive experience in stunt coordinating including the two-part season finale of Community, “A Fistful of Paintballs,” which is adored by a multitude of TV geeks. Despite all these advantages, Setup never pays off in the ways it should have. The dialogue tries very hard to be funny and dark, but it comes off as smug as if writer/director Mike Gunther is patting himself on the back for being clever.

One particular complaint I had with Setup also sums up why I don't like the movie as a whole. There is a scene where one of the extra gangsters accidentally shoots himself in the head when he is messing around with a gun, and they have to dump his body with a friend who works at a meat processing plant. The filmmakers might have thought they were paying homage to Pulp Fiction's “I shot Marvin in the face” scene, but I didn't appreciate the gesture because the scene wasn't good. I felt like they were using something that was done more effectively in another movie and trying to pass it off as a tribute when really they couldn't think of anything more creative. Setup took plot points and style choices from Pulp Fiction, Guy Ritchie films, and even A Fish Called Wanda and then mashed them together to make something new, but Setup is never as good as any of the films it borrows from.

Blu-ray Bonus Features

The Blu-ray copy comes with commentary by Mike Gunther and Kyle Woods, a making-of featurette, a closer look at the guns in Setup, and interviews with the cast and crew of the film.

"Setup" is on sale September 20, 2011 and is rated R. Action, Crime. Directed by Mike Gunther. Written by Mike Gunther, Mike Behrman. Starring Brett Granstaff, Bruce Willis, Curtis Jackson, Ryan Phillippe, Shaun Toub.

Rachel Kolb • Staff Writer

I love movies, writing, and breaking into song in public. You can follow me on Twitter @rachelekolb or check out more of my work at


New Reviews