The Set-Up

The Set-Up ★★★½

A very solid sports drama with shades of film noir from venerable journeyman Robert Wise, I quite liked The Set-Up. Robert Ryan players a down on his luck boxer whose well past his prime and a perpetual loser. His manager decides to pull a fast one by taking a deal with a mob boss to throw the fight, but doesn't actually tell Ryan's boxer. Bad news is this perpetual loser feels backed into a corner and comes to this fight with a far greater drive than anyone expects. Which raises the question; what happens if he wins? The premise here is innately intriguing and the film is very well-made. The boxing scenes in particular have a real violence to them with Wise wisely restraining his soundtrack at times, key moments playing largely in silence. Scorsese is a known fan of this movie and I imagine the soundscape had some influence on Raging Bull. If the movie has any real issue is that the story reaches peak interest just as it ends. Much as the fight is a great bit of suspense, the real question of the story is what happens afterward. I wish the film dealt more with those consequences. As is, the wrap up comes so quickly and while powerful, I'd have liked to strew in discomfort more. Overall though, this is a rock solid piece of old school filmmaking and a rewarding little watch.