Step Up Revolution, the fourth installment in the Step Up franchise, ditches the bogus high-culture/low-culture clash that fueled earlier installments. The story? Sean (Ryan Guzman), head of a flashy flash mob, romances Emily (Kathryn McCormick), whose father (Peter Gallagher) plans to tear down Sean’s Miami ’hood for a luxury development.
Let’s face it: Pop influences rule the arts commercially, and hip hop has dominated the music charts for three decades. That battle is over. As always, the two white-bread leads must channel the ethnic other (Black, Hispanic, Asian) in the class struggle. Guzman may have a Spanish surname, but he is virtually indistinguishable from Channing Tatum, the star borned from Step Up el primero.
Which raises the question: Four films about dancers, and no gay people (except for the unspoken homoerotic bond between Sean and his BF, Eddy)?
Having said all this, Step Up Revolution is the best entry in the series. Although people still have to follow their dreams yadda yadda, those dreams include community empowerment and art as political protest. And, rather than just a Very Special Episode of America’s Best Dance Crew, choreographer Jamal Sims stages some spectacular numbers, including a thumping disruption of a City Council meeting with The Mob in black suits and fedoras (they have a bigger tech budget than the crews from previous SU movies).
In this jittery moviegoing time, I say beats, not bullets.