The Set-Up

The Set-Up ★★★½

Continuing my small Robert Ryan run is Robert Wise's The Set-Up (I've written the words "set up" like six times today) which sees Ryan take a lead role as an aging boxer who has a habit of losing every match. The film centers around a familiar topic of a fixed match versus honor of the boxer but it's not deeply reflective. It juxtaposes moments in the locker room where fighters come and go talking about their dreams with Ryan's wife wandering around the city trying to bear another expected loss. Wise also emphasizes the way in which money-making and entertainment are tied to brutality and suffering which are appropriate topics for the depressing noir canon.

I feel like Wise always has simple yet observant stories to tell and he tells them with great confidence. The black and white visuals are nothing short of stunning - the lighting is masterful like in I Want to Live. I loved the fighting scenes less than everything else but that's because I always compare every fight scene to Raging Bull. Ryan's role is not the same tough guy I've seen from him. Here he allows the environment and other characters to breathe while mirroring their emotions, only once having a moment of self-reflection about his past which is quickly cut short. It was little disappointing to hear (from sakana's review) about the changes that were made to the original material but the movie is still very competent.

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