Certain parts of the head will react differently to Step Up: Revolution, the fourth installment in the franchise of urban dance movies that dates back to 2006.
It’s targeted mostly at the eyes, which can feast upon the abundant fast-paced dance sequences, and more specifically on the sweaty, sculpted young actors who gratuitously thrust their bodies toward the camera, in 3D, no less.
Then we have the ears, which are subject to the pulsating soundtrack of hip-hop and techno music that accompanies the aforementioned dance scenes, yet which also must endure the often painfully trite dialogue that comes between them.
It’s the brain, however, that really gets the shaft in a film that would have been better off as a feature-length music video, which would have eliminated the need for actors reciting lines and for a script that is aggressively stupid and incoherent.
Not that any of that is supposed to matter in a franchise that already has a built-in audience, despite the fact that none of the sequels have any story or character connection to the previous installments.
In this film, the focus is on the growing flash-mob phenomenon, and the story takes place on the beachfront of Miami. It centers on Emily (Kathryn McCormick), an aspiring dancer who sees joining a dance crew known as The Mob as a way to diversify her routine prior to auditioning for a prestigious company.
As The Mob becomes an online sensation for its elaborate routines, Emily falls for the group’s leader with perpetual facial stubble, Sean (Ryan Guzman), who happens to be employed at a resort run by her father (Peter Gallagher), a powerful developer whose latest project threatens to destroy an older section of town where The Mob hangs out.
The dance crew develops a false sense of entitlement in the name of artistic freedom and rebels against the development plans as their efforts turn from harmless mischief into political activism, with Emily caught in the middle.
As directed by music-video veteran Scott Speer, the dance sequences provide the film’s highlights, energized by innovative choreography and stunt work in settings ranging from crowded city streets to art museums to rail yards.
That same level of creativity doesn’t extend to the lead-footed script, however, which serves only to bridge the action showcases yet consumes a majority of the running time.
Rated PG-13, 99 minutes.