The latest movie in the Step Up franchise aims for a politicized message behind all the flashy moves but it could do with a lot less plot and a lot more dancing. In Step Up Revolution the Miami dance group "The Mob" takes to the streets (and other random locations) to perform intricately choreographed routines with their own DJ a camera guy who uploads their videos to YouTube and a graffiti artist who leaves their signature behind. It takes at least that much effort just to get hipster New Yorkers to ride the subways without any pants on once a year; it's hard to believe that The Mob could pull off their elaborate schemes without getting caught but that's the magic of movies.
The Mob represents the more diverse working class side of Miami a young multiracial group of friends who create incredible works of art that disappear before they get shut down. One of the Mob's leaders Sean (Ryan Guzman) earnestly explains to newcomer Emily (Kathryn McCormick) that the group's reason is to give a voice to the voiceless or to be happy or to dance or something. It's not really clear but they have a lot of fun and look amazing doing it.
Once Sean and his friends find out that a greedy developer plans to raze their neighborhood to make way for another South Beach-style hotel monstrosity they have a reason to rally but until then they're just trying to win a cash prize by getting clicks on YouTube. The typical Step Up twist is that Emily is the developer's daughter. Mr. Anderson (Peter Gallagher) doesn't approve of Emily's love of dancing or other frippery and he certainly wouldn't approve of her hanging out with the people causing such mayhem in the streets of Miami.
Step Up Revolution biggest misstep is trying to give the movie more of a hook than the franchise's typical Romeo and Juliet-style love story and tap into "the Zeitgeist" (I swear that's from the studio-provided press notes) of flash mobs. The film could have cut out most of the plot and characters and still have a completely intact film insofar as the point of the film is its multimedia dance routines. The sort of productions The Mob pulls off are more akin to carefully planned art installations or music videos in terms of scope; it would have been better to at least make that somehow feasible in terms of the storyline. Yes we are here for a spectacle and we surely get a spectacle but it needs to have some roots in reality.
The dance scenes are fun sexy and occasionally a little sappy but overall quite enjoyable for people who enjoy "So You Think You Can Dance" type of shows. Kathryn McCormick and Stephen "tWitch" Boss both appeared on "SYTYCD" and their costar Misha Gabriel is a classically trained ballet dancer turned pro back-up dancer for folks like Beyoncé and Michael Jackson. Guzman doesn't have a dance background but he is an MMA fighter who obviously took his training very seriously. The entire outfit is pretty damn entertaining to be honest.
As far as the 3D goes it makes most of Miami look overcast and grey. The extra zings added in to make sure we get our money's worth like sand flicking out at us or a breakdancer whose foot seems to be aiming for our face only serves to distract from the real show at hand. There is also an awful lot of ramping and generally spazzy editing tricks that look cheap. The screenplay by Amanda Brody is definitely not its strong suit.
Step Up Revolution is the cinematic equivalent of a trashy beach novel. It's embarrassing to be caught actually enjoying it and you'll forget about it almost immediately but it's a decent way to spend a summer afternoon.
CIA agent Crawford (Statham) squares off against Triad assassin “Rogue” (Li) in this wretched and unbelievably unmotivated shoot-‘em-up. Sooner or later the two will come face to face--and it can’t happen soon enough. If the story made even a modicum of sense it would be far easier to convey what it’s about. There’s a lot of talk about loyalty about vengeance about honor. Sounds bad doesn’t it? What’s worse and even unforgivable is that War is a crashing – and crushing – bore. The setting is San Francisco but aside from about 60 seconds of stock footage it’s painfully clear this sludge was propagated north of the border. Both Statham and Li are very charismatic very physical performers - yet they have alarmingly little to do here except look tough. Even their most fervent fans might well wonder why they bothered to show up. The principal heavy is John Lone who was far more appealingly villainous in The Shadow and even Rush Hour 2. Super-cutie Devon Aoki again displays her limited command of thespian ability in a “femme fatale” role that goes absolutely nowhere. For whatever reason Luis Guzman also makes a brief (and hopefully well-paid) appearance and Saul Rubinek also picks up an easy check as well. The culprit in this department is Philip G. Atwell making his feature directorial debut. There’s nowhere to go but up right? Wrong. There’s something to be said for brainless fun but there’s nothing further to be said about a brainless dud. War is a waste of celluloid. This late-summer release from Lionsgate is at best a dead-on-arrival throwaway engineered to make a quick killing at the box office. To quote the great Edwin Starr: “War what is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Say it again.”