Four crazy ass black woman, that guys don’t have just all the fun robbing places.
Sick of being victims of circumstance and fighting a system that keeps them from realizing their dreams, four black women from the Los Angeles projects opt to knock over a bank. Emboldened after pulling off the heist, they continue their crime spree. But the sticky-fingered quartet (played by Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A. Fox and Kimberly Elise) is unaware that a fixated police detective (John C. McGinley) has them in his sights.
There are certain types of films that show a love between a group of friends that love each other so much that they would do anything for the other. For these four chicks, that anything, is robbing banks in order to get rich. Oh, I wish I had friends like these.
The film shows a great deal of how these four friends all equally inhabit struggle, and hardships in their personal and work lives. Whether the d-bag boss is just up your ass all the time, or you feel like you might be getting played by some Harvard grad, they each all have hardships. We see this very well, and early on in the film, we understand the characters enough for us to like them even when they start shooting up mofos.
However, I just had a huge problem actually believing they could pull off as many jobs as they did. These four worked together so sloppy, by the way their technique went, and how the first place they robbed wasn’t even the place they were going to go for. Everybody is so disorganized when it comes to pulling of the heist itself, they make Thunderbolt and Lightfoot shake their heads in disgust.
I liked how director F. Gary Gray made a lot of the action sequences fun and smart, reminding me a lot of the old-school action flicks, but I just feel like he didn’t know what to make this film. In the beginning the film looked like it was a big social statement on how African American women are treated in society. But when they start doing the heist jobs it turns into a typical action flick. I didn’t know what Gary Gray wanted to do, hell I don’t even think he knew what he wanted to do, all I know is that it could have been formatted a lot better. But the guy does look pretty chill, so i can’t talk that much ish on him.
Other than those two slight problems, the performances from these four ladies are superb. Jada Pinkett Smith, does a great job in this film in what you could call the “tragic hero”, and brings out that charm we all know and love her for, but also the unrelentless hate in her soul. Vivica A. Fox, is her usual high-spirited diva, while Kimberly Elise is just being the sheltered little nice girl. But the best here is that lovable little fire herself, I present to you, Miss Queen Latifah. I have to give a lot of props to Latifah for this performance because she goes all out with her lesbo-loving character. Back in 1996, it was unheard of a musician-turned-actor, actually doing a good job. But Latifah broke down that wall and showed that she isn’t anything other than just a bunch of hits, she’s a great and independent woman, who can go all out with her performance, and still be 100% likable.
Consensus: Though the film gets lost in its message, and believable happenings, Set it Off works so well when it comes to showing great action sequences, and working a story of four friends that actually seem like it, mostly due to their performances.