September 23, 2019  (Web Review)


New Line, 111 min., R, DVD: $28.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $35.99, Sept. 24

Reviewer rating: 2.0/4

Although it showcases Samuel L. Jackson’s second take on the ultra-cool black P.I. John Shaft, filmmaker Tim Story’s Shaft is not a sequel to John Singleton’s 2000 reboot of the 1970s franchise that starred Richard Roundtree. In that earlier version, Jackson’s Shaft was the nephew of Roundtree’s bad-ass dude; here he is Roundtree’s son, with a boy of his own named JJ (Jessie T. Usher). FBI analyst JJ has been estranged from his father for years—a prologue shows the 1989 shootout that caused Shaft’s wife Maya (Regina Hall) to leave her husband, taking their baby with her. But when a vet friend working to help others reintegrate into society suddenly dies of a drug overdose, JJ is convinced that he was murdered, and he enlists his father to help prove it. Jackson’s Shaft is a black Archie Bunker, spouting sexist remarks and insults against gays and millennials, but although he is personally a social dinosaur, he is still the most effective investigator on the streets, breaking rule after rule in his pursuit of the villains—which include his ultimate quarry, the evil drug lord (Isaach De Bankolé) who targeted the family back in 1989. The movie’s treatment of firearms borders on the fetishistic, and its general attitude toward women is hardly more enlightened than Shaft’s. Jackson, Usher, and a returning Roundtree give it their all and the nostalgia factor (including Isaac Hayes’s score) is high, but ultimately Shaft is a disappointingly run-of-the-mill action comedy. Optional, at best. [Note: DVD/Blu-ray extras include the three-part featurette “A Complicated Man: The Shaft Legacy” (45 min.), a “Can Ya Dig It?” making-of featurette (11 min.), a gag reel (5 min.), and deleted scenes (3 min.). Exclusive to the Blu-ray release are bonus DVD and digital copies of the film. Bottom line: a solid extras package for a disappointing reboot.] (F. Swietek)