This Day in Film: ‘Set It Off’

Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 8:00 am.

Fourteen years ago today, the action-crime drama Set It Off opened in theaters nationwide.  This was F. Gary Gray’s second film, the first being Friday in 1995.  In many ways, Set It Off was a first of its kind, starring four Black women as bank robbers.  Also, it didn’t hurt that the film featured some of the favorite Black actresses of the time, Vivica Fox, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah and newcomer Kimberly Elise.

The ladies played women who were stuck in the poverty of Los Angeles, California. Ironically, none of the leads were from California. After Fox’s character is blamed for a robbery at the bank she worked at and is wrongfully fired from her job, the women start robbing banks on their own, hoping it will be a way out of their neighborhood.

The movie stirred some controversy with Queen Latifah playing a lesbian character, causing many to question her sexuality.  Fans credit her performance as Cleo as one of the best in her career.

The film was extremely violent for its time and had some hardcore action scenes. But, at its heart the storyline focused on friendship, and with its tear-jerker ending, Set It Off grossed nearly $42 million.

Check out the vintage trailer below.


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