The Set-Up

The Set-Up ★★★★½

More readily regarded as a technical showpiece thanks to Wise's implementation of real-time throughout, yet this is also a profoundly sad dissection of a down-and-out, nigh-punch-drunk fighter's primary existential woe in the moments leading up to and during what could be the final fight of his career. While Stoker laments having lost out on the chance to be somebody, his girlfriend merely wants him to preserve what's left of the brain that hasn't already leaked out of his ears, tearily insisting that she doesn't care what he does as long as he stops punishing himself for the crooked shit heels making a quick buck behind his back. This and the pre-fight locker room banter between parties from all walks are as meaningful as the film's crowning centerpiece and fateful distillation of the Prideful Act in the grasp of those who exploit the sweat and toil of others for personal gain.

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