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Set It Off (film)

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Director  F. Gary Gray
Music director  Christopher Young
6.8/10 IMDb

Genre  Action, Crime, Drama
Story by  Takashi Bufford
Language  English
Set It Off (film) movie poster

Release date  November 6, 1996
Writer  Takashi Bufford (story), Takashi Bufford (screenplay), Kate Lanier (screenplay)
Screenplay  Kate Lanier, Takashi Bufford
Cast  Jada Pinkett Smith (Stony), Queen Latifah (Cleo), Vivica A. Fox (Frankie), Kimberly Elise (Tisean), Blair Underwood (Keith Weston), John C. McGinley (Detective Strode)
Similar movies  Interstellar, Blackhat, Terminator Salvation, Let's Be Cops, Blade Runner, Die Hard
Tagline  It's about crime. It's about payback. It's about survival.

Set it off trailer 1996

Set It Off is a 1996 American crime action film directed by F. Gary Gray and written by Kate Lanier and Takashi Bufford. The film stars Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox and Kimberly Elise (in her film debut). It follows four close friends in Los Angeles, California, who decide to plan and execute a bank robbery. They decide to do so for different reasons, although all four want better for themselves and their families. The film became a critical and box office success, grossing over $41 million against a budget of $9 million.


Set It Off (film) movie scenes

Set it off frankie dies


Set It Off (film) movie scenes

Francesca "Frankie" Sutton is a Los Angeles bank teller who witnesses a robbery. Although she had no prior knowledge of the robbery, the bank fires Frankie after the police uncover a connection between her and one of the three robbers. Frankie goes to work at Luther's Janitorial Services with her three best friends, Lida "Stoney" Newsome, Cleopatra "Cleo" Sims, and Tisean "T.T." Williams. Luther treats them with disrespect and pays them paltry wages. Cleo states they should rob a bank themselves. Frankie agrees, but Stoney and T.T. are reluctant. However, when Stoney's younger brother is gunned down by the police in a case of mistaken identity and T.T.'s son is taken away from her by Child Protective Services because she cannot afford to take care of him, they too now have the motivation to join the robbery.

Set It Off (film) movie scenes

The four women embark on a series of bank robberies, which are investigated by LAPD detective Strode. He suspects that Cleo (because of her prior convictions), Frankie (because of her inadvertent connection to the earlier robbery) and Stoney (because of her brother's death) are involved. But his superior refuses to allow him to bring them in for questioning because he doesn't feel the evidence is sufficient. The four women stash the money in an air vent at one of their work sites. However, Cleo, Frankie, and T.T. show up for work one day and realize that their boss, Luther has discovered the money and fled. While Stoney attends a banking event with her lover Keith, the three women track Luther to a motel where he is sleeping with a prostitute. When Luther pulls a gun on Cleo, T.T. kills him. The next day Detective Strode takes Cleo to the police station to participate in a lineup. A glare from Cleo intimidates the prostitute into silence. Frankie and Cleo persuade T.T. and Stoney that they need to rob another bank and leave town the next day.

Set It Off (film) movie scenes

The women rob the bank where Keith, Stoney's lover, works. Strode and his partner try to prevent the robbery, but a bank security guard shoots T.T. A shootout ensues as Stoney shoots the guard, and an enraged Cleo opens fire on the detectives. T.T. dies in Stoney's arms en route to the hospital. The three remaining women decide to split up and meet up later.

The police find Cleo who proceeds to lead them on a high speed chase. After her car is shot up by police, Cleo leaps from her car in one final battle for her dignity, firing her gun, and is shot down by the police. Frankie is found a short time later. Strode tries to get her to surrender, but when she runs away, she is shot in the back and killed. Stoney tearfully watches this from a passing bus. Strode sees her from a distance but lets her go, realizing he was the reason she and her friends did what they did.

In Mexico, Stoney calls Keith to assure him that she is all right and thanks him. Keith hangs up the phone and smiles. Stoney is seen driving through the mountains with the stolen money from the robberies on tow.


  • Jada Pinkett as Lida "Stoney" Newsome
  • Queen Latifah as Cleopatra "Cleo" Sims
  • Vivica A. Fox as Francesca "Frankie" Sutton
  • Kimberly Elise as Tisean "T.T." Williams
  • John C. McGinley as Detective Strode
  • Blair Underwood as Keith Weston
  • Ella Joyce as Detective Waller
  • Charlie Robinson as Nate Andrews
  • Dr. Dre as Black Sam
  • WC as Darnell (Bank robber)
  • Charles Walker as Captain Fredricks
  • Mark Thompson as TV Anchor
  • F. Gary Gray as Guy driving low-rider
  • Geoff Callan as Nigel
  • Natalie Desselle as Tanika
  • Chaz Lamar Shepard as Stevie Newsome
  • Thomas Jefferson Byrd as Luther
  • Samuel Monroe Jr. as Lorenz
  • Production

    Takashi Bufford said that he wrote the script for Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah in mind even though he had not yet met them. The script was offered to New Line three times before finally being accepted, and the studio filled in more about why the female leads turn to bank robbery in a way that wasn't in the original script.

    Critical reception and box office

    Set It Off received generally positive reviews from critics and audiences. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, it holds an overall 63% approval rating based on 24 reviews, with a rating average of 6.1 out of 10. The site's consensus reads: "It may not boast an original plot, but Set It Off is a satisfying, socially conscious heist film thanks largely to fine performances from its leads." Roger Ebert stated that Set It Off is "a lot more" than a thriller about four black women who rob banks. Comparing it to Waiting to Exhale, but "with a strong jolt of reality," he said, "It creates a portrait of the lives of these women that's so observant and informed." He gave the film three and a half stars, and added, "The movie surprised and moved me: I expected a routine action picture and was amazed how much I started to care about the characters."

    Stephen Holden of The New York Times compared Set It Off to Thelma & Louise, stating, "In formulaic Hollywood terms, Set It Off might be described as Thelma and Louise Ride Shotgun in the Hood While Waiting to Exhale. A pop psychologist might translate the story into a fable called Women Who Rob Banks and the Society That Hates Them." He added that among "the long list of Hollywood heist movies that make you root for its criminals to steal a million dollars and live happily ever after, F. Gary Gray's film Set It Off is one of the most poignantly impassioned," and that "[i]f this messy roller coaster of a film often seems to be going in several directions at once, it never for a second loses empathy" for the female robbers.

    James Berardinelli said that if Set It Off owes any debt to films, those films are Thelma & Louise and Dead Presidents, rather than Waiting to Exhale. He stated that "[t]here's a freshness and energy in the way director F. Gary Gray attacks this familiar material that keeps Set It Off entertaining, even during its weakest moments" and that "[t]he concept of four black action heroines makes for a welcome change in a genre that is dominated by: (a) rugged white males with a perpetual five o'clock shadow, (b) rugged white males who speak English with an accent, and (c) rugged white males with the acting ability of a fence post." Berardinelli added that although "[t]he film doesn't get off to a promising start" and "[t]he first half-hour, which details the various characters' motives for becoming involved in a bank robbery, is unevenly scripted," and that some aspects of the plot are contrived, "[o]nce the setup is complete, however, things shift into high gear. The remainder of the film, which includes several high-adrenaline action sequences and some slower, more dramatic moments, is smoothly-crafted. There are occasional missteps, such as an out-of-place Godfather parody, but, in general, Set It Off manages to rise above these."

    On a budget of $9 million and R-rated, Set It Off grossed $36,461,139 in the U.S. and Canada, $5,129,747 internationally, and $41,590,886 worldwide. Tribute magazine stated that it is New Line Cinema's highest-grossing film of 1996, and that it won Gray a Black Film Award for Best Director, and the Special Jury Prize at the Cognac Film Festival.


    The soundtrack was released on September 24, 1996 by East West Records and featured production from several of hip hop and R&B's top producers such as Organized Noize, DJ U-Neek and DJ Rectangle. The soundtrack was a huge success making it to number four on the Billboard 200 and number three on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and featured seven charting singles "Set It Off", "Don't Let Go (Love)", "Days of Our Livez", "Angel", "Come On", "Let It Go" and "Missing You". All of the singles had music videos made for them. The track "The Heist" by Da 5 Footaz also had a music video made, even though it was not released as a single. On November 12, 1996 the album was certified platinum by the RIAA.

    Track listing

    "Up Against the Wind" (runtime – 4:28), sung by Lori Perry and produced by Christopher Young, is not included in the soundtrack.


    Varese Sarabande issued an album of Christopher Young's score for the film, including Lori Perry's "Up Against The Wind" on November 19, 1996.

    Awards and nominations

    1997 Acapulco Black Film Festival

  • Best Director: F. Gary Gray (won)
  • 1997 Independent Spirit Awards

  • Best Supporting Female: Queen Latifah (nominated)
  • 1997 NAACP Image Awards

  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Motion Picture: Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith (nominated)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture: Blair Underwood (nominated)
  • References

    Set It Off (film) Wikipedia
    Set It Off (film) IMDbSet It Off (film) Roger EbertSet It Off (film) Rotten TomatoesSet It Off (film)