Blerd Film Club: Set It Off

F. Gary Gray got his start in movies with Friday. The next year he followed it up with a gangster flick written by Takashi Bufford and starring four women, something nearly unheard of in 1996. After pitching the film on three different occasion Set it Off was finally given the green light. It would star Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, well known stars, Vivica A. Fox a newcomer coming off an award winning performance in Independence Day and Kimberly Elise in her first film.

The film starts with Frankie, a bank teller, being caught in the middle of a robbery. She didn't know about the robbery, but she knew one of the robbers. Because of this, she was fired. Her friends get her a job working with them at Luther's Janitorial Services. Luther is a terrible boss, and constantly talks down to them. All while paying them nothing. Cleo wants to rob a bank and Frankie agrees right away. TT and Stoney initially disagree.

However, TT's son is taken away from her because it has been determined she can't afford to raise him properly. She soon agrees to rob a bank. Stoney is busy celebrating her brother's high school graduation. He'll be the first in the family to attend college. Instead he's gunned down by police despite being unarmed. She agrees to the robberies now.

They go on a spree of robberies investigated by Detective Strode. However, his superiors don't believe that four women are capable of bank robbery and his evidence is weak at best. Luther steals the money they were stashing while Stoney is out of town with her boyfriend Keith, who works for a bank. The other track down Luther and kill him for the money. Eventually Cleo is brought in for a lineup as a suspect in the murder but scares the witness.

The four attempt to rob one more bank and vanish. They choose the bank where Stoney's boyfriend Keith works. Strode gets their early and tries to prevent any violence. A hyped up security guard ignores Strode and shoots TT. Stoney responds by shooting the guard. Cleo sees the detectives and shoot at them thinking they're to blame. They temporarily get away and split up.

TT dies before they can get her medical treatment. The police find Cleo first and she leads them on a high speed chase before having one of the most memorable death scenes on film. Strode catches up with Frankie next. He tries to get her to surrender. Frankie panics and runs. Strode tries to stop other officers from firing on her but they shoot her in the back as she runs. Strode sees Stoney on the bus but doesn't alert any of the other officers. Seemingly feeling guilt since he tried to end this all peacefully but at every turn other officers chose to shoot first. Not wishing to see another death he watches as Stoney rides away. Somewhere in Mexico Stoney calls Keith to let him know she's still alive. She shaves her hair and heads off to start a new life.

The thing that makes Set It Off so great is the same thing that makes it last. Sure, it's a gangster film but there's a lot of things that it covers. Stony's brother is gunned down by police officers despite not having a weapon. Cleo is a lesbian and faces backlash for that. All four are black women who aren't exactly treated great throughout the film. There's no mercy in this film. Even when they have happy moments, they're quickly crushed.

There's happy moments in Set it Off but there's not a happy ending for anyone. Nobody really overcomes their issues. The only way to overcome them was to just die and somehow, the film doesn't make that sad. It is only depicted as life. No matter how bad things get for these women, they just keep moving forward until they can't go anymore. That's life.

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Blerd Film Club: Set It Off Blerd Film Club: Set It Off Reviewed by Blerds Online on Tuesday, February 05, 2019 Rating: 5

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