You know, if your going to pinpoint one person as being symbolic of everything that is wrong with straight-to-video movies, it's pretty much ridiculous. I mean, they're straight-to-video movies. Nobody expects anything worthy of mention for them. Yet, that is exactly what I am going to do.
Rapper 50 Cent is symbolic of much of what is wrong with straight-to-video movies. It's funny how this guy went from being one of the biggest rappers on earth to a regular in such movies, but he's got a shit load of money, so he act/produce these movies. With "Setup", he somehow brings in two bigger stars-Ryan Phillipe and Bruce Willis of all people-into his world of mediocrity.
Mr. Cent stars as Sonny, who along with his best friend, is shot (way to be subtle about one of your claims to fame) by Vincent Long (Phillipe) after a heist gone wrong, and now wants revenge. To get this revenge, he teams with the mob, which always works well in these movies. When the mob's muscle Petey (Randy Courture, in a rather thankless role) is shot, and things start to go south, mob boss Biggs (Willis) wants something done about all this.
I will say these two things: Willis is good (though only around for like 10 minutes total) and the production values look much better than most straight-to-video movies. Then again, it did cost $20 million to make, which seems like a bit much for something like this, but hey. Apart from that, this is your typical bad cop/heist/whatever movie from Lionsgate and Grindstone Entertainment. That means there's a bad soundtrack made up of dull rock and uninteresting rap, badly written character drama, mostly bad acting (Phillipe's performance could be called bipolar, as he goes from committed to looking like he doesn't want to be there), plot points like a pseudo-religious angle that go nowhere, plot holes the size of craters, and no reason to care about anyone or anything that happens.
Then there's 50 Cent. Look, there are rappers that have proven themselves to be good to decent actors. Look at Ice Cube, Ice T, RZA and Mos Def for example. 50 Cent is not one of those good actors. Next to Master P, he's the worst rapper trying his hand at acting I've ever seen. This is a man who is completely void of anything resembling dramatic chops, charisma or screen presence, and serves more as a vacuum than he does an actor. And that's one of the reasons why he's so bad for these kinds of movies. Sure, Phillipe and Willis are clearly there for the paycheck-that or they were blackmailed or owed somebody a favor-but guys like James Remar are talented guys. Yet, this is a vanity project for a man who couldn't act to save his life.
If you are a hardcore 50 Cent fan (though I doubt that kind of thing still exists), you will want to see this. Everyone else is better off reading a book or something.