In 1971 actor Richard Roundtree took on the role of John Shaft and helped the leader of the Black crime mob retrieve his kidnapped daughter. In 2000, Samuel L. Jackson stepped in as John Shaft (the original’s nephew) and fought for justice in a murder. Fast forward nineteen years later and we see Jessie T. Usher take on the role of JJ Shaft (2000’s Shaft’s son) in 2019’s Shaft.
JJ Shaft is an internet security expert working for the FBI. JJ’s friend, Karim, gets murdered and while he is quick to take on the case for the FBI, Special Agent Vietti (played by Titus Welliver) hands the case over to agents more seasoned for the job. Miffed by Vietti, JJ decides to skirt the FBI and figure out what exactly happened to Karim. After an initial attempt of confronting Manuel (played by Ian Casselberry), the man who JJ thinks is responsible for Karim’s murder, he learns that he needs more help in order to get to the bottom of the case and asks his dad for help. John Shaft agrees to help JJ and quickly finds out a personal link to the murder himself.
In case you are not familiar with John Shaft by now, he does not handle things in a conventional fashion. He has no clue how to use a computer and uses file boxes for all of his case files, he puts female attention above all else in the world, and he basically does what he wants eschewing all rules. John Shaft will walk across the street without a crosswalk and just expect all traffic to stop for him. He also drives his Grey/Black SS Camaro like a wild man with no cares. Shaft does not even have a driver’s license. He doesn’t care!
Jackson and Usher’s chemistry on screen is a good amount of fun. Jackson’s offering of John Shaft as the don’t-give-a-f badass that he is and Usher’s JJ newbie-like role play well together. Shaft is incredibly funny throughout the one hour and fifty one minute case. I was laughing at Shaft’s never ending pursuit of female attention while handling his business. The movie is filled with sexual jokes that work for the most part. There are some that don’t land quite as well but the good ones do heavily outweigh the bad. Shaft kept reminding me of the Rush Hour series with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. It is very much a “buddy cop” movie with the perfect balance of humor and action. Director Tim Story must have taken a few pages out of Brett Ratner’s book.
Along with action, hopefully comes great sound. Shaft delivers in the sound department as well. I saw Shaft in a loud Dolby theater and with each bullet shot, and every roar of the SS Camaro my chair was shaking. Very cool experience! Don’t worry, you will hear the classic funky Oscar winning score and song from the original movie. Unfortunately, the movie ends with an updated rap version of the song and it just was not good.
Where Shaft does lose part of its steam is the very dialogue heavy scenes. It does tend to over explain a case that turns out to be not all that complicated. I was able to predict the case about half way through the movie and it took the excitement out of the storyline by the time the solution appeared on screen. The predictability factor was not a deal breaker and I still enjoyed Shaft a great deal but it did cheapen the experience. With the recent plethora of sequels and reboots to hit the theater lately, Shaft is worthy of your time and Samuel L. Jackson’s performance is worth the price of admission alone. All things considered, I did enjoy the latest installment of Shaft and I think you just might dig it too!