“Shaft" stars Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher, Regina Hall, Alexandra Shipp, and Richard Roundtree. Released on June 14, 2019, the film is about an FBI agent who teams up with his father to solve a murder crime.
The film is directed by Tim Story, who also directed films such as “Barbershop”, “Fantastic Four”, “Think Like a Man”, and “Ride Along”. It is the fifth film in the “Shaft” film series. Father’s Day is once again upon us, so let’s celebrate the wonderful things our fathers have done for us…by looking at a film about a father and his son. Now, this might come as a shock to you readers who are familiar with this franchise, so I’m just going to say this as honest as I can: I have not seen any of the “Shaft” films that came before this one. Yes, especially the 2000 film with Samuel L. Jackson. I guess I didn’t have a good enough reason to watch those films. Oh well, at least this one gave me a good reason to check this franchise out. So, for this review, I will be talking about it as an up-and-coming newbie without comparing it to the previous installments since again, I haven't watched any of them. With that said, let’s go solve this murder mystery.
Serving as a continuation of the 2000 film of the same name, the story follows John Shaft Jr. (Usher), the son of John Shaft II (Jackson) who works for the FBI and is a cybersecurity expert. When his friend mysteriously dies under questionable circumstances, he turns to his father, a private investigator, for help, and thus, their quest to uncover the truth begins. While the film is rated R for obvious reasons like violence, sexual references, and language, it didn’t focus too much on making the former over-the-top and brutal, which may satisfy those who aren’t into that type of stuff. However, that doesn’t mean that it also strays far from the language and the humor, but before I get to that, let’s talk about how I felt about the story. It’s easy for me to say that the film didn’t shoot its way past its familiar elements, including the estranged relationship between family members. Does that make it a bad thing? Well, it strongly depends on its entertainment value. I came into this film to be entertained and boy, I was not disappointed. It did get a bit uneven during a couple of scenes in terms of the pacing, but it never lost my interest. It always finds a way to keep things going even though it didn’t pack any surprising punches. Tim Story wasn’t always the best director to envision these types of stories, but I would say that he’s the type of guy who knows how to make the cast charismatic and enjoyable. Samuel L. Jackson once again put on a very good show as John Shaft. If you’re someone who enjoys Jackson’s sense of humor in his other films, I can surely bet that you’re going to love him in this film. I was also impressed with Jessie T. Usher’s performance as Shaft’s son. I was a little bit concerned that his character might get a bit too over-the-top in terms of the humor, but the way they handled him was surprisingly decent and Usher did his part in making sure it stayed that way. As for Richard Roundtree, aka the original “Shaft”, he’s not in it that much, but he was enjoyable as well. Now then, how about the film’s humor? It’s one of those films that deal with the “old school vs new school” scenario, so expect plenty of jokes that involve stuff people do in the 70s. Personally, I thought the humor was actually pretty funny, mostly because of the chemistry between Jackson and Usher. It’s not entirely hilarious due to some of them being either bland or offensive, but it’s passable. Another thing I would like to mention is the musical score by Christopher Lennertz. It’s got that funky vibe that matches the tone of the film, and like the cast, it was pleasant.
Overall, this recent take on “Shaft” didn’t exactly hit all of the right targets, but it did hit my funny bone multiple times, so that’s good enough. Sure, the plot wasn’t anything too special and the humor was a hit-and-miss on certain occasions, but its charismatic cast and entertainment value kept it from being a total misfire. As its own film, it’s a decent summer treat for those who want to have a good time watching Jackson crack some jokes and shoot people. Maybe someday I’ll go check out the other “Shaft” films and see how they compare to the new one. Until then, I’ll just appreciate the fact that I’m happy with what I got.