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R: ARCHIVE, S: REVIEWS, D: 11/07/1996,

Set It Off

Writer/director F. Gary Gray is some chef. His latest film, Set It Off, is a solid concoction of Menace II Society, Killing Zoe, and Cinderella. Vivica Fox (Independence Day), Jada Pinkett (Menace II Society), newcomer Kimberly Oldham, and Queen Latifah (Living Single) star as longtime friends struggling to survive in the projects of Southern Los Angeles. When LAPD officer John C. McGinley (Platoon) accidentally shoots down Fox's brother, the four decide to make some quick cash robbing banks. Although the subplots have a nasty knack of turning melodramatic and contrived (i.e., Fox given the "rags to riches" treatment by her lover, a bigwig bank manager who also happens to be the target for her next heist), the robbery scenes are humorous and actually keep you on the edge of your seat. Plus, you've got to give Set It Off points for having Queen Latifah scream, "What're you lookin' at, I'm a bitch wit' a gun!" At the Cheri, the Fresh Pond, and the Circle and in the suburbs.

-- Peter Alpern