The Set-Up

The Set-Up ★★★½

If what they say is true, and life is a sport. And we really are all spectators. I ask you then, what’s the harm in putting a price on it and making things a little interesting? So what if the currency comes in human-shaped and flesh-coloured.

It’s direction as sturdy as your Da’s old beaten leather gloves (this is Robert Wise, after all) and photography so clean sweat-soaked you can practically taste the knuckle sandwiches; That when combined with a performance that doesn’t pull no punches (this is Robert Ryan, after all), ensures this sports drama go the extra round and turn this could be ageing-boxer potboiler into a heavyweight bout for the championships. 

Boxing movies play inherently cinematic due to a) an easy to root for underdog that b) has to fight and keep fighting, stakes rising under from thin air and buckets worth of blood-shed. But this is not your average boxing movie, no sir. Throw a result so preemptive-ly crooked-nosed into the ring. As the crowd of starved vultures readily cheers on your demise. With players so two-faced you could call them all sorts of names under the sun. And still, this claims one Set-Up to defy any expectation and land a swift knockout of a sleazy poem. 

He got what he wanted, he proved he still had it in him. She got what she wanted, he’ll never see fit to do it again. Hopelessly hopeful, hopefully hopeless. He will never see this pain, or this glory again. He will live an easy life, but no one will remember his name. He will never be this happy or this sad again.

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