In Brief: Guilty pleasure fun.
Shaft is the third movie to have the title, Shaft. This is a sequel to a film done by John Singleton in 2000. In it Samuel L. Jackson played the original John Shaft’s nephew. He’s the character done by Richard Roundtree in the 1971 movie. Roundtree went on to do two more films and a TV series.
All except the original were a total bust. Singleton’s film wasn’t all that hot either.
Director Tim Story (Barbershop, the Ride Along movies, Think Like a Man & Think Like a Man Too) and writers Kenya Barris (Barbershop: The Next Cut) and Alex Barnow (TV’s The Family Guy) do a little character reworking. Shaft is no longer a nephew. He’s the son of the 1971 Shaft and has a son. That son works for the FBI and needs his estranged father to help him find out who killed his best friend.
What makes this version much different than the others, and what makes it a lot of fun, is the sense of humor. Story, the writers, Jackson, Jessie T. Usher (Independence Day: Resurgence) who plays Shaft’s son, Regina Hall, Alexandra Shipp, Method Man and others have a blast with this material.
Things really start cooking when Roundtree is finally brought into the movie in the third-act. Story and the writers should have found a way to get him there sooner.
While this is an ensemble cast, the movie clearly belongs to Jackson who averages something like five-movies a year and seems to be in almost every movie these days. Jackson can deliver the straightest, most menacing lines imaginable and still make you smile.
You believe him but you don’t.
That’s perfect for a film that requires the oh-come-on-now, laugh-out-loud, suspension of disbelief. All this also makes you wonder why it took 19-years to get around to doing a sequel to the 2000 film. What you can expect is a much faster turn around this time. Shaft is going to be a big hit and in Hollywood when hits happen, sequels aren’t far behind.
Director: Tim Story
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher, Richard Roundtree, Regina Hall, Alexandra Shipp, Method Man, Avan Jogia
A fun flick and the most fun you’ll have with this week’s disappointing releases. When Richard Roundtree finally gets involved, this one gets cooking. Look for a sequel. Give this a 4 out of 5 on the Friday Flicks with Gary 0 to 5 scale.
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Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.