Step Up Revolution has glitz but no street cred
Starring Ryan Guzman and Kathryn McCormick. Rated PG.
Step Up Revolution’s got da looks but not da moves. The movie opens with what may qualify as the most dazzlingly staged flash mob ever filmed: Miami Beach b-boys and -girls dancing on top of a candy-coloured traffic jam of low riders along South Beach’s famed art deco strip. Even the cars bust some moves. But like so many of the ever more outrageous dance sequences in the fourth installment of this franchise, it forgoes innovative, adrenaline-gushing choreography for surface spectacle.
That’s not the way Step Up started out. The 2006 original was a breakout hit not just because of low-key star Channing Tatum but because its dance numbers never felt contrived. Back then, Step Up took place in gritty Baltimore; by moving the action to Miami, Step Up Revolution gains glitz but loses street cred.
The script follows the same, tired formula: fly white-guy hip-hopper from the wrong side of the tracks (Ryan Guzman) hooks up with an uppity contemporary dancer (Kathryn McCormick). Emily is trying out for a big-name troupe that wants her to find some style, so she asks to join Sean’s guerilla dance group, an outfit called the Mob. Together, they begin to stage more political flash mobs, protesting the moves of a developer—who just happens to be Emily’s father (Peter Gallagher)—to bulldoze the crew’s colourful slice of Miami.
In terms of characters, Step Up Revolution has little going for it other than Guzman, who easily outsmoulders and outdances Tatum. And the Mob itself is surprisingly faceless and undeveloped.
But don’t misunderstand: Step Up Revolution aspires to art. Its increasingly elaborate routines—planned Oceans 11–style by the Mob members—even venture into an art gallery, where the dancers seem to materialize out of the paintings. Shocked news reports refer to the Mob as “art vigilantes”. It’s a conceit that makes the commercialism-happy ending laughable.
Still, it’s fun to watch. It’s just that if we’re going to talk about the art form, out of the recent wave of urban-dance flicks, StreetDance 2 still owns the floor.
Watch the trailer for Step Up Revolution.