Back we go to the land where people don’t talk about their problems, they DANCE about their problems. Step-Up 4:Miami Heat follows the tried-and-tested formula of the previous instalments and pretty much every dance film ever made. Emily (Kathryn McCormick) a girl from the good side of tracks whose struggling with a lack of imagination in her dance routines who falls for Sean (Ryan Guzman), a boy from the wrong side of town who happens to be the leader of a dance group called The Mob. Concerned that Emily’s father Bill Anderson (Peter Gallagher) plans to destroy the area that The Mob come from, they team up with Emily using Flashmobs to make a stand.
Step-Up 4 follows the same tired and predictable plot as the previous films, interspersing high-adrenaline dance numbers with a love story straight out of any romcom. The endless mind-numbing dialogue becomes a real issue for the first half of the film, with characters speaking in an annoying question and answer format. delivered by a cast, who apart from Peter Gallagher are clearly here for their moves rather than their acting range.
And yet around the time that the group hear of the planned destruction of their home, there is a shift in tone and pacing. Imagine my surprise as I watched this horror-show of mundane film-making, this fourth instalment of a franchise that only needed the original to make its point, when suddenly, out of nowhere I found myself actually caring about the group and their cause. There are neat tricks like talking heads with people that live in Miami, which add to the surprising pathos. Step-Up 4’s finale is also a delight, with the best dance numbers and one or two surprises for fans of the series.
Another issue is the music, a blend of banging dance and R&B is designed to make you want to move, however Step-Up 4 insists on portraying The Mob as the worst stereotypes of fans of these genres. They spend so much time trying to prove how tough they are, all the time using an almost Ghandi-esque approach to protesting, never using violence or bad language. They’re as dangerous as a feather duster.
The moral politics of Step-Up 4 are confusing though. The group actually represent anti-progress, anti-education, anti-establishment and much like the ˜Occupy’ movement there’s a lot of talk about ˜fighting the man’ and stopping ˜greedy businessmen,’ which seems admirable on the face of it. There is however something unnerving about watching a group trying to upset the balance of society, while also looking for a lucrative contract from a sportswear giant. This confused duality causes real issues with the final resolution, but then again maybe I’m reading too much into it. Maybe it’s just a film about pretty people dancing. Either way it’s stupid, toothless and thoroughly fun.