A current coworker strongly recommended this film to watch and review. Naturally, I picked it up and, after watching it, made me wonder why I never recognized this movie much earlier. In other words, it's a work of art.
You've already got an excellent cast featuring Jada Pinkett, Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox and Kimberly Elise—four women who play roles in trying to survive from a low-income area, known as the "ghetto," to find stability and life balance. It all triggered when a friend, with his other posse, ganged up against Frankie (Fox), who works at a bank, to help them complete their bank robbing operation plotted by Darnell (rapper WC). While one was killed and the bank was in a mess, authorities rage in, challenging Frankie about the employee protocol when being held at gunpoint. Unimpressed with her answer to the police and management, Frankie's boss fires her.
Looking to stay busy, she gets referred to by her best friends Stoney (Pinkett), Cleo (Latifah) and Tisean "T.T." (Elise), who all work for Luther's Janitorial Services. All four girls find they get paid a ridiculously small amount for their work, barely enough to get by. While one of the girls struck up the idea of robbing banks, it wasn't until Stoney's brother admits the truth he's not going to college, but gets killed by police mistaking him for the real suspect who robbed the bank (thanks to his haircut he got on the back of his head that says AP—Acorn Projects). Worse, a detective named Strode (John C. McGinley) tells Stoney they'll investigate (that scene alone made me angry, given the circumstances of what's been happening today). As things continue to spiral down for the girls, T.T. brought her baby son to work only to rush him to the hospital because of a mishap. The head of Child Protection Services opts to hold on to the child, accusing T.T. of child neglect. All this made the girls really cling to each other and plot to rob multiple banks.
While robbing banks are normally seen as a bad thing, once you watch the situations unfold for these poor, innocent women, you just want to root for and get them to stick 'em up! The money they snatched range from the ten thousands to the hundred thousands. At one bank, Stoney runs into a well-dressed banker named Keith who asks if she needed help or had questions. That immediately turned into a pick-up, hoping Keith will stay in touch as he's interested in taking Stoney out.
While the LAPD were analyzing surveillance video on who the robbers were, the girls spend some of the money on novelties, here and there. Because the police were getting hot on their trail, the girls wanted to hide the money in their work place inside an air duct (of all places). Once they went back to work, they were greeted by new management who now took over as their new boss, only to find their money was stolen by former boss Luther himself. After hunting him down, in bed with a hooker, the girls, namely Cleo, held him hostage trying to give them back their money. After yelling and denying, T.T. kills him from behind. Next day, after some grocery shopping, Cleo gets approached by an officer to show up at a nearby station, when authorities ask the hooker who killed Luther. Cleo stares at the hooker and reminds her that during the holdup in the hotel, she stole her driver's license. The hooker then lies and says none of the women in the lineup were the girls who killed Luther. Dodging the police again, the girls agree it's time to move out.
Throughout some of that trouble, we see scenes of Stoney and Keith spending time together in a more calm, drama-free life, seeing that Keith lives in a posh place holding on to an excellent-paying job. However, the girls go on to rob the bank where Keith manages. Stoney masks the operation off, namely for her sake, to call up Keith and meet her at a nearby diner. Waiting and finding that she's late, the girls rob the bank....only to get caught by police. Here's where it crumbles down: Detective Strode finally admits he's the one who killed Stoney's brother, yet urges the girls to drop their weapons. T.T. drops her gun first, only to get shot by a fly-by officer. The girls run and drive away in their stolen, getaway car immediately hoping to get T.T. to a nearby hospital, but find it's too late as she quietly passes.
To spread out the police chase, the three girls agree to split up and flee away. Cleo drives on to challenge the police herself only to get surrounded and trapped by police cars and officers. With her eyes flooded with tears, and a freshly lit cigarette, Cleo drives on as her car gets shot up getting killed in the car. Dramatically, she steps outside the car and shoots police officers one last time before she kicks the bucket. As Stoney sneaks in a seat at a van traveling to Mexico, she witnesses Frankie standing one against all officers who have their guns ready but are being yelled at to hold their fires by Detective Strode. Strode, who now admits he killed an innocent man, wants to re-negotiate and peacefully sort it out with Frankie only to get held up by Frankie, reminding him what the protocol is when someone pulls a gun on an officer (payback). Running to flee away once again, Frankie gets shot and killed in front of dear sweet Stoney, as she sees the situation unfold while in the bus. Strode sees Stoney in the bus, wanting to run after her, but judging by her facial expressions, Strode stops and let's her go. Why? Her face is telling him that he was the reason the girls grouped together to plot a mass crime in the name of survival and retaliation. In other words, Strode knew he messed up as he turns around and walks away with his hands above his head.
Vacationing in Mexico and cutting off her braids, Stoney calls Keith, who is at work. Stoney called to thank him, plain and simple, while Keith appreciated for lending a helping hand. Stoney hops on a jeep and drives off with the money they snatched.
This review has been written and posted on 2018, and if you're aware of the news that goes on around the internet will find that this movie has a lot going on referring to real-life situations. As a matter of fact, this movie needs to re-surface as it speaks a LOT of what's going on today.
There's a countless amount of social/political turmoil going on as this writing is being done. In fact, many people—myself, being one of them—wonders why crime ought to be justified and why some folks are mistreated than others by authorities/police. Just this movie alone cleared all that, making sense of every little thing that goes on in our busy world. Let's remind ourselves, especially to those fellow Angelenos who have lived in southern California nearly all their lives: Los Angeles was the murder capital of the world. Up and currently here in 2018, that has drastically changed—low-income cities and towns have been cleaned up, gentrified and are now targets for new business havens. That's right: what once were cities known for its high crime rates are now turning into places of art, education, restaurants and small, growing businesses. While I commend the folks for doing this, it's also a bummer seeing that because underneath all that crime, graffiti and smog, there's a lot of history behind it.
I'm a fan of Keith's character in this movie. His portrayal ought to tell us that no matter how troubled and aggressive a woman can get, as long as she retains her loyalty, a nice man will always be a nice man treating her like a queen.
John McGinley's character as an officer chasing after the four women speaks enough about a chief officer who justifies the crime commitment in an unfair way. When you have an officer confess that he killed an innocent soul, you immediately lose trust in them. The purpose of a police force is to protect the town/city from any wrong-doings and intruders. Sadly, given what's happening nowadays, our perception of a police officer has skewed immensely. (According to conspiracy theorists on YouTube, police officers are quietly paid millions by politicians and corrupt entities to kill innocent citizens to justify a declaration of a movement/law they hope to inject against the people and the country, let alone trigger a bad reaction from the public—a contrast to trolling. Spooky, isn't it?) That scene of Detective Strode walking away with his hands on top of his head should tell viewers that he knew he messed up, and is the guilty one that ignited this mess even though he's "just" doing his job.
Regardless of what your interpretation of the movie may be, it is clear—very clear—that this is a portrayal of injustice and mistreatment against those in low-income neighborhoods. Friendships are made while some get broken, but they all have bonded to acquire one thing: Living a stable, uninterrupted life. Some folks don't want any trouble in their lives, but sadly get intercepted by some authority figure who have ruined their chances, and worse, have killed off their loved one(s) without rationalizing and reasoning, assuming they're "all the same." This wonderful movie breaks all those assumptions; If you assume without thinking, it'll cost someone's life. Think about that.
With that being said, whenever I see someone post or wear a T-shirt that says, "The struggle is real," I no longer find that phrase funny. This movie expresses how tough a struggle can be and how "real" it is. It's nothing to laugh at, so forget your first-world problems as there are people whose struggle "is real." Life isn't supposed to be easy but that doesn't mean we deserve mistreatment whilst minding our own business. Criminals will always be criminals, but not everyone is like that, regardless of their age, skin color, gender, attire and/or residence. Like what I said earlier, there's reasons people commit crimes to justify a retaliation. It's not the best method of fighting back, but you want to make your emotions heard and felt: an unarmed brother got killed, so we're out to fight back. What's the best way to do so?
Looking at the Special Features, titled Setting It Straight: Making Set It Off, you get exclusive interviews with director J. Gary Gray and the actresses themselves, only featuring Fox and Elise, however. Knowing behind the scenes, the numerous takes and rehearals, Gray said this to sum up the movie:
"It says a lot about our system when you have a certain part of the population who has to live like this, and feel like there's no way out. And the only way out is to do something that's suicidal."
— J. Gray Gray, director "Set It Off"
struggle mistreatment is real. There you go. If some of these folks are American-born citizens, THEN WHY IS IT PERFECTLY OKAY TO TREAT THEM LIKE THIS?! WHY HARM YOUR OWN CITIZENS?! (For the record, talking about politics stresses me out. It triggers extreme anxiety and sadness in me, and can get complex to talk about, depending on the topic. Nevertheless, my heart will always go out to those victims of police brutality.)
Next you have the music video "Let It Go" by Ray J and the movie's theatrical trailer. That about does it for the Special Features.
If this movie was aired again, I'm sure a spike in interest will come about. EVERYONE needs to watch and know about this movie because it sums up the troubles that go on in our country today.
About the Blu-ray video and audio digital information. The video used a WVC1 codec outputting a YUV2 (16 bit) color space. The frame was digitized at 23.98, sometimes called "24p." For a nineties movie upscaled to 1080p for this Blu-ray, the results are amazing. The contrast and grain give that classic "film look," which filmmakers are into nowadays, since the movie was shot with Panavision. For the audio, it was digitized with Dolby TrueHD, including an 8-channel surround sound and stereo. The sample rate was finished at 48000 and 24 bits per sample. The sound effects and the dialogue are crystal clear, almost like you're listening to a real-life conversation. Perfect digitized video and clean audio make an excellent couple in the comfort of movie watching. Duplication houses and production companies behind the re-release of this movie on Blu-ray did a fantastic job.
While the Making Set It Off was also finished at 1080p, the music video from Ray J was digitized at Standard Definition 4:3 letterboxed (480p). This may disappoint some viewers/fans, if they expect to have the full 1080p experience. For the theatrical trailer, it is widescreen (16:9) but at only 480p.
An action-packed movie that'll stir your every emotions, but also will speak out to the injustices that go on today. Waste no time: purchase/stream this movie!
|Title||Set It Off|
|Description||it's about crime.
it's about payback.
it's about survival.
"If Darnell could rob a bank, we can take a bank."
That's what four tough and tough-times L.A. women think after a brother from the prospects pulls off a bloody bank heist. So they armor up and make bank robbery a woman's game. Four memorable stars — Jada Pinkett (The Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions), Queen Latifah (Hairspray), Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill Vol. 1) and Kimberly Elise (Close To Home) — slam home the action in director F. Gary Gray's (Friday) blistering, breakthrough thriller that's now even more incendiary in an Extended Director's Cut. If you're looking for movie dynamite, Set If Off with these girlz in the hood.
|ISBN / Bar Code number||0-7806-5991-0 / 7 94043 13158 5|
|Special Features||• New Featurette Setting It Straight: Making Set It Off
• Ray J Let It Go Music Video
|Blu-ray Amaray Movie Credits||NEW LINE CINEMA presents
a PEAK PRODUCTION a film by F. GARY GRAY JADA PINKETT QUEEN LATIFAH "SET IT OFF" VIVICA A. FOX JOHN C. McGINLEY KIMBERLY ELISE and BLAIR UNDERWOOD casting by ROBI REED-HUMES, c.s.a. costume designer SYLVIA VEGA VASQUEZ music by Christopher Young edited by JOHN CARTER, a.c.e. production designer ROBB WILSON KING director of photography MARK RESHOVSKY associate producer ROBERT J. DEGUS co-producers TAKASHI BUFFORD ALLEN ALSOBROOK executive producers MARY PARENT F. GARY GRAY story by TAKASHI BUFFORD screenplay by TAKASHI BUFFORD and KATE LANIER produced by DALE POLLOCK and OREN KOULES directed by F. GARY GRAY
|HD Video Format||2.4:1 (16:9) / Widescreen (Letterbox) / 1080p
Special Features: 1080p High Definition / 480p Standard Definition
|Audio Format||Dolby Audio / TrueHD
English 7.1, Dolby Digital: English 5.1 EX
|Disc Count||One (1)|
|Features||Play Movie, Behind The Story, Music Videos, Trailers, Online|
|Genre||Drama / Action|
|Run Time||Approx. 124 Mins.
FBI Warning - 00:15, New Line Entertainment intro - 00:25, Ratings screen - 00:05, Menu - 00:04, Feature film - 2:03:54, [SPECIAL FEATURES]: Setting It Straight: Making "Set It Off" - 0:26:36, "Let It Go" music video - 04:55, Theattrical trailer - 02:25.
Total time: 2:38:39
|Subtitles||English, English SDH, Français & Español|
|Rated||R - Restricted | Strong Violence, Pervasive Language, Some Sex, and Drug Use
Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian
Bonus Material/Trailer Not Rated.
|Region||Region A - NTSC|
|Original Film Release||November 06, 1996|
|Blu-ray Release||September 08, 2009|
|Production||Peak Production / New Line Productions / Elektra Entertainment Group|
|Company||Warner Bros. Entertainment|
|Distributed by||Warner Home Video|
|Blu-ray Product Number||3000023020|
|Copyright||Set It Off Director's Cut © 1996 New Line Productions, Inc. Package Design & Supplementary Material Compilation © 2013 Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. Let It Go Music Video © 1996 Elektra Entertainment Group and New Line Productions, Inc. Distributed by Warner Home Video, 4000 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91522. All rights reserved. Dolby and the symbol are trademarks of Dolby Laboratories. Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. is not responsible for maintaining access to any website or its content. NOT AUTHORIZED FOR SALE OR RENTAL OUTSIDE THE USA AND CANADA. This copyrighted product is authorized for sale or rental for private home use in the USA AND CANADA ONLY. Federal law provides severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized distribution, reproduction, exhibition or retransmission of copyrighted motion pictures, videotapes or videodiscs. Blu-ray Disc™, Blu-ray™ and the logos are trademarks of the Blu-ray Disc Association.|
|Other Formats||DVD, Digital Download, Amazon Video|
|Other||*Levels of video resolution and audio standards, and (if applicable) Special Features performance, require audio-visual equipment capability. Playback requires Blu-ray Disc™ Player. Playback experience will vary depending on player capabilities and performance. Please consult your Blu-ray Player Manual or Player Support Website for more information.
30% POST-CONSUMER RECYCLED CONTENT
THIS BLU-RAY DISC™ OS COPY PROTECTED AND MAY BE PLAYED ONLY ON LICENSED DEVICES.
ENGLISH SDH MAIN FEATURE ONLY
SOUNDTRACK ALBUM AVAILABLE ON EASTERN RECORDS COMPACT DISCS