Review – Set Up

Set Up cover


I actually enjoyed Set Up. Of course it is hard for a guy not to like a movie featuring a classic Pontiac GTO which looked rather stunning. Even though they had big name actors it appears they didn’t have the capacity to fix an annoying problem with vehicles of that era – the slow roll hot start problem.

The Authentic Engine

Most of you Millenials will have no idea what I’m talking about. Half of you don’t own cars and the other half never drove a car with a V8 engine generating that much heat under the hood. Having owned quite a few old vehicles, some of which were actually new when I bought them, allow me to educate you.

Starters of that era don’t tolerate heat well. This is especially true of remanned/rebuilt starter motors. As they get hotter they get weaker. The starter has to build up more juice inside it before it can finally begin moving the flywheel to roll the engine over.

The annoying problem will start out as an intermittent one second delay between the time you turn the key and you hear the engine rolling over. By the time it gets to be a three second delay you need to be replacing that starter because the next step is no-worky. That step usually happens on a day when it is pouring rain and you absolutely have to be somewhere.

The Rebuilt Engine

The second situation which causes this problem in muscle cars is a rebuilt engine. You can almost never rebuild an engine of that era without a bit of cylinder boring. Most people who rebuild one decide to “soup it up a bit.” They put performance pistons and rings in along with a higher performance (lower MPG) cam shaft.

Some will even remember they have to put in performance main bearings and connecting rods if they’ve tweaked anything up top, but only some remember this part. Almost everybody forgets to shop around for a performance starter. The factory starter really has to struggle to roll over all of that increased compression and torque, especially before the rings have had a chance to seat themselves.

Careful watchers will find this scene happening after our main character gets out of the back of the limo/town car after questioning the female driver. He walks back to his pale blue GTO, sits down and turns the key. Notice the lag between the ignition turn and the engine actually rolling over. This isn’t a special effects bug. They had just driven it there and the motor was still all hot under the hood.

Several other scenes in the movie show a wee bit of oil smoke wafting from the tail pipe. The mark of an engine getting close to needing a fresh rebuild or a really horrible rebuild someone tried to do themselves. With a car like that you pay a pro. Try your hand rebuilding some nondescript daily driver.

The Pulp Fiction nod

It was a bit odd to see Bruce Willis in another movie which was trying to be very “Pulp Fiction” like. “Set Up” is a very character oriented movie. By that I don’t mean to say it has really strong characters but each time a new character is introduced they pause the scene and put up a little sign “the hitman,” “the muscle,” “the butcher,” etc. It’s kind of quaint. This is one of those bad people killing bad people so no reason to feel bad about it story lines. Something to make you feel good about a self cleaning gene pool.

What really surprised me is the fact I had never heard of Set Up. Admittedly I listen to more NPR than regular radio. Admittedly I watch a lot of PBS Newshour and DVDs. I do still watch the ABC Channel 7 news to get the weather and usually I watch the Tuesday night NCIS lineup.

So maybe this movie was advertised on some other station and evening, but, seriously? A movie with Bruce Willis which didn’t have a big advertising budget? I would hate to think Hollywood is so enamored with comic book heroes they have relegated Bruce to the “straight to DVD” movies.

For more movie rental ideas please see list one and list two.

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