- Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher, Richard Roundtree
- Kenya Barris, Alex Barnow
- Tim Story
- 14A (Canada), R (United States)
- Running Time
- 111 minutes
- Release Date
- June 14th, 2019
The sequel to a reboot of a classic blaxploitation franchise (all using the same title for whatever reason), Shaft is the type of film that should not work on paper but still manages to do just enough in being a fun experience that will definitely not be for everyone, especially if you are easily offended. The film itself is a derivative and narrative mess, checking off all the buddy cop film cliches while featuring plenty of other boring subplots, with some taking questionable turns, and admittedly lazy yet hilarious humor. While not nearly as groundbreaking as its many predecessors, this new installment thrives thanks to a compelling central relationship that manages to cover up many of its shortcomings.
The story this time around was revealed for the most part through the majority of the film’s promotional material and features the famed private investigator John Shaft (Jackson) who was recruited by his estranged son JJ (Usher) to help him find the truth behind the death of his best friend. This fact didn’t need much convincing on our parts but John Shaft was certainly not the best father and he and his lifestyle were not exactly the most conducive to raise a family. He would spend most of his life being raised by his mother Mya (Regina Hall), however, desperate times called for desperate measures.
The pairing of John and JJ would pretty much go the way many would expect with the film going out of its way to show how very different both of these men were (though most viewers could probably figure this out on their own). The character of John should not come as much of a surprise to anyone familiar with the 2000 Shaft (or anyone who has seen a Samuel L. Jackson film). He clearly came from a different time which would definitely not be considered politically correct today to put it lightly (for which a large portion of viewers will surely find offensive). Meanwhile, JJ was a mild-mannered, buttoned up MIT grad.
The contrast between John and JJ made up for the bulk of the humor which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering its laziness. John would take his verbal shots at JJ and his lifestyle and upbringing (and also today’s society as a whole) while the film made it abundantly clear that JJ was not cut out for John’s world. Its overuse of f-words and n-words did get old very quickly but despite this, the lazy humor worked more often than not thanks to the great chemistry between John and JJ. The story may be predictable, however, they were still incredibly fun to watch.
The action was also kind of stupid, dull and a little slow which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering the age of some of the main actors which included Roundtree as John Shaft Sr. (who was John Shaft’s uncle in the 2000 Shaft) though hearing that iconic score was still cool. The acting for the most part was good with Jackson and Usher single-handedly leading the way as John and JJ Shaft respectively. Jackson as John Shaft admittedly played the same character he’s played countless times in countless films but the sheer energy he brings here was so infectious to watch. Usher brought plenty of charisma to JJ and his chemistry with Jackson helped to sell their father-son relationship. Roundtree and Hall both made an impact in limited screen time as John Shaft Sr. and Mya respectively, however, they were almost afterthoughts.
Shaft purists may not enjoy this installment but those looking for a fun and stupid action comedy may find enough to enjoy here assuming you’re not offended.
*still courtesy of Warner Bros.*