A re-imagining of Set It Off is being developed by Issa Rae, the star and co-creator of Insecure. Released in 1996, Set It Off was a crime thriller headlined by Jada Pinkett and Queen Latifah. It is often included in long lists for the best movies of the decade and an example of a diverse cast being used in service of a specific story.
The original followed four friends as they decide to commit a series of bank robberies. They reach that decision after being fed up with their low-paying jobs and the institutional violence that surrounds them, wanting better lives for themselves and their families. At first, their robberies are successful. But over time, the quartet grow suspicious of each other and, as they attract the attention of a fixated detective, they’re forced to make difficult decisions. The film, which also starred Vivica A. Fox and Kimberly Elise, was a hit at the box office and garnered praise for its deft social commentary. Legendary film critic Roger Ebert gave Set It Off three stars and a half, out of four, noting the fact that he found himself caring deeply about the characters.
According to THR, Rae will produce the re-imagining and is also looking at the possibility of appearing in front of the camera as one of the project’s stars. Montrel McKay, Rae’s partner at Issa Rae Productions, will also be involved as a producer. Syreeta Singleton (Black Monday) and Nina Gloster, who has worked on the drama Star, are attached to pen the script.
The re-imagining of Set It Off is one of a number of projects which is set to feature Rae. In addition to her performance on Insecure, for which she’s received a Golden Globe nomination, and her role in Little, the actress will share the screen with Altanta standout Lakeith Stanfield in The Photograph. She will also appear, alongside Kumail Nanjiani, in The Lovebirds. Both films are in the romantic comedy genre, either with a murder mystery twist or a time-hopping element involved.
Set It Off varies from that trend. While Rae is known for her humor, and for her insight into the complications of modern life, the original crime thriller was often grim and is remembered for that quality by some of its most ardent supporters. The details of the re-imagining remain to be seen, along with Rae’s potential co-stars, but the story of inequality and a sense of desperation is still as relevant today as it was more than two decades ago. If it’s executed well, the new version will surely resonate with audiences.