HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Last Warrior, The
Artemis 81
Rampage
Quiet Place, A
Braven
Changeover, The
Isle of Dogs
Funny Cow
Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Mad to Be Normal
Beast of Burden
Dead Men Walk
Game Night
Under the Tree
L'Amant Double
Gonin
Coco
Producers, The
Molly's Game
Forest of the Lost Souls, The
Hatchet III
Birdman of Alcatraz
Pacific Rim: Uprising
Wonderstruck
If It Ain't Stiff, It Ain't Worth a Fuck
Nun, The
Red Sparrow
My Friend Dahmer
Journeyman
Heat, The
   
 
Newest Articles
The Ultimate Trip: The Original Psychedelic Movies
Players of Games: Willy Wonka, Tron and Ready Player One
What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round? The Ends of The Monkees
Flings and Arrows: Conquest vs Flesh + Blood
Orson Around: F for Fake and The Late Great Planet Earth
ITC What You Did There: Retro-Action on Blu-ray
And It Was the Dirtiest Harry We Have Seen in a Very Long Time: The Dirty Harry Series
Manor On Movies: The Astounding She Monster
Manor On Movies: Don't be a dolt. That's not a cult (movie)
Wes Anderson's Big Daddies: Steve Zissou and Others
Bad Taste from Outer Space: Galaxy of Terror and Xtro
A Yen for the 1990s: Iron Monkey and Satan Returns
Hey, Punk: Jubilee and Rock 'n' Roll High School
Help! with The Knack: Richard Lester in 1965
Roll Up, Get Yer Free Cinema: The Shorts on the BFI Woodfall Blu-rays
   
 
  Set It Off Sisterhood In The HoodBuy this film here.
Year: 1996
Director: F. Gary Gray
Stars: Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox, Kimberly Elise, John C. McGinley, Blair Underwood, Chaz Lamar Shepherd, Thomas Jefferson Byrd, Charles Robinson, Ella Joyce, Anna Maria Horsford, Samantha MacLachlan, Samuel Monroe Jr, Dr. Dre
Genre: Drama, Action, Thriller, Romance
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Frankie Sutton (Vivica A. Fox) had a job as a bank teller before the unthinkable happened and one day she recognised someone from her neighbourhood in the queue. Alas, he was a bad sort and when he reached her post he pulled a gun on her and demanded cash, no matter that she was trying to talk him out of it when his two cohorts started yelling at everyone to get down. To make matters worse, he grabbed a woman from the line and ordered Frankie to hand over the bills, and when she was frozen with fear, he put a bullet in the hostage's head. A melee erupted that saw one of the robbers get away and the other two dead - and Frankie lost her job. Now she's desperate...

And so are three of her friends who we are supposed to believe are driven by this poverty into a life of crime, despite evidence that not every woman who is struggling to make ends meet takes up bank robbery. But then, Set It Off was a fantasy of empowerment in a dubious setting, telling us that if the men could feel ten feet tall by pulling off a heist, so could the women, even though there was much here that spoke to playing movie star rather than appealing to the real-life problems many endure that the characters were supposed to be representing. It was a film that flopped in its day, but found an audience on home video, to the extent that it received a belated director's cut.

You would be hard pressed to find the original, snappier version that was released in cinemas now, which is a pity when that two-hour incarnation is a bit of a slog that wallows in its heroines' issues then only intermittently springs to life when director F. Gary Gray had an action sequence to deliver. Though he had emerged as a music video director, he had a bona fide hit in Friday, the comedy with Ice Cube which was curious as one of the criminals here, played by Queen Latifah, was essentially an impression of him, should he have been a butch lesbian, making one wonder whether that was Latifah's choice as some tribute or other, or whether Gray suggested she portray her that way.

Whichever, at least she provided grit and her tough girl act was something different for the heist genre, as one had to admit, was all the soap opera melodrama the quartet had to wade through until they could let their hair down in the more kinetic scenes. There was only so much self-pity you could take before you twigged Set It Off was intended to make the audience cry, not something inspired by all those heist efforts peopled by men. But this was the nineties, and African-American movies were emerging from the New Black Cinema from a social conscience to a more crowd-pleasing format across the board, effectively landing those subsequent issue movies in a ghetto they would only occasionally pop up from, such as Oscar-winner Moonlight.

In this fashion, Set It Off certainly levelled the playing field where black performers would not simply appeal to their own specific race when they were in movies, and proved that there was a valid, wider interest in such actors that previously would not have even crossed the minds of the movers and shakers, aside from megastars of the Sidney Poitier or Eddie Murphy variety. That was encouraging, but it remained a hoary old tale of poor souls swamped by their circumstances otherwise, not too different from social pictures of the past sixty years, only this had black celebrities like Jada Pinkett Smith in the lead, being romanced by oblivious banker Blair Underwood doing his best Billy Dee Williams impersonation. Otherwise, it felt uncomfortably manipulative, not only of the viewer but the four females it followed, building them up in successes then punishing them severely when those successes were illegal. It is a cult movie, and it does satisfy some, but for what it represented you may wish it was better.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 63 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Robert Segedy
Darren Jones
  Asma Amal
  Chris Lawrence
Enoch Sneed
George White
Stately Wayne Manor
   

 

Last Updated: