Set It Off

I’m confused by this film.

The four leads have excellent moments, but the same performers also make odd choices.

The tone is all over the place, yet sometimes everything clicks and the film is immersive.

The movie embraces female empowerment, but it was directed by a man and it’s got an uncomfortable amount of male gaze.

See what I mean? Confusing.

A few other thoughts:

  • I’m not sure if this would have been possible, but … imagine taking the crux of this film–four Black women reach their breaking points and take action by robbing banks–and giving it a longer timeline that showed the group’s evolution from amateur robbers to a well-oiled crew. It would be an origin story of sorts, which you rarely see in heist films.

  • The pacing in this film is sometimes bizarre. Some scenes go on too long. Others could have been edited with a better pace. Not faster, just better. Case in point: The end of the movie involves an awkward phone conversation between Stony (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Keith (Blair Underwood) that’s followed by an extended helicopter shot of Stony driving a Jeep along a coastline. The rhythms are all off. Each end of the phone call seems like it was shot months apart. And the Jeep scene feels bolted on and unnecessarily long, as though the producers wanted to get their money’s worth out of the helicopter rental the shot required.

  • Why is the “Godfather” scene in the film? And what did they make poor Vivica A. Fox put in her cheeks so she could mimic Marlon Brando?