In this fourth installment of the popular, if predictable franchise, the stage is set in Miami, where Emily (Kathryn McCormick) has aspirations of becoming a professional dancer and falls in love with Sean (Ryan Guzman), who – with his childhood buddy Eddy (Misha Gabriel) – lead an underground dance crew in elaborate, cutting-edge flash mobs which are captured on video to compete for $1 million in a YouTube contest.
But when a ruthless real estate developer (Peter Gallagher), who happens to be Emily’s father, threatens to turn their historic neighborhood into commercial property and displace thousands of multiracial people, Emily, Sean and their friends turn their Mob performance into protest art, risking their personal dreams to fight for a greater cause.
That’s all quite admirable EXCEPT for a major fumble: when the dancers sneak into a party, wearing body vests and gas masks, using smoke bombs and gas grenades to threaten the guests, it’s eerily reminiscent of the recent tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. While Summit Entertainment wisely decided to remove that scene from TV ads, they should have deleted it altogether.
Riffing off a flaccid, derivative script by first-time screenwriter Amanda Brody, floundering first-time feature director Scott Speer makes use of his TV/video background. While it doesn’t approach the sparks previously ignited by Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan, there’s some chemistry between Kathryn McCormick, best known as a finalist on the TV series “So You Think You Can Dance,” and Abercrombie & Fitch model Ryan Guzman.
Choreographer Jamal Sims who – with Christopher Scott, Travis Wall and Chuck Maldonado – deserves credit for some inventive, percussive urban dance sequences – one in an art museum and the other in a City Council meeting – which are even more impressive in 3D. But there’s no excuse for such insipid acting – excluding always reliable Peter Gallagher and Adam G. Sevani, who briefly reprises his role as Moose.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Step Up Revolution” is a forgettable, formulaic if fleet-footed 4, with familiar faces popping up in some surprise cameos.