Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher, Alexandra Shipp, Regina Hall, Richard Roundtree,
It’s a generational thing as all three “Shaft” men come together in the third installment of the movie series that dates back to the ’70s. Samuel L. Jackson who has built a career on playing Shaft-type characters was the optimal choice to bring the foul-mouthed detective back to the big screen in 2000. “Barbershop” director Tim Story infuses this latest version with a pretty run of the mill old school versus millennial story as one generation learns to respect the other. The plot for “Shaft” 2019 is better than the Melissa McCarthy cop movies and it’s funnier too. Story steers the film towards mature comedy and away from slapstick. Though it’s still a movie where the people are killed outside the law with no repercussions.
In 1989, to protect his family John Shaft (Jackson) walked away from them after one of New York’s most dangerous gangsters targeted the highly effective cop. He made a deal with his girl (Hall) that he would always look after their son, from afar. JJ (Usher) received wildly inappropriate presents from his father throughout his childhood, yet his father’s absence is what made the biggest impact. Now an FBI data analyst, JJ needs his father’s personal touch to aid in a case that involves one of his best friends. It just so happens JJ’s needs intersect with Shaft’s own, the case is the same case he’s been working on for the last two decades. The two men might have some obvious differences in style and manner, but the more time they spend together the more positive traits they share begin to emerge.
Despite all the ridiculous and predictable story choices, 'Shaft' manages to keep the laughs fresh and the plot moving.
“You didn’t just break the law, you committed human rights violations,” JJ says to his father after one of Shaft’s classic interrogations. The duality between the two character’s is nothing new to action comedy. One sensitive character freaking out over the methods of a patriarchal figure who doesn’t let rules or laws affect his getting the job done. Bringing the two polar opposite characters to meet somewhere in the middle is also predictable par for the course. However, despite all the ridiculous and predictable story choices, “Shaft” manages to keep the laughs fresh and the plot moving. Fans of the original films will certainly get more out of this film, especially when Richard Roundtree, who played the original Shaft, joins the mix.
“Shaft” (2019) is the closest thing to a lead role we have seen Jackson in for years. True, Usher gets most of the screen-time and plot burden. Jackson shows up, looks cool, spout off some dirty dialogue, and then hands it back over to Jr. Still, fans worried that Jackson has been relegated to bit parts in “Avengers” movies, disappointing horror thrillers and off-screen voiceovers, will relish his role in this film. “Shaft” is one of those rare films that successfully uses foul language for comedic purposes. “Shaft” is also unapologetically politically incorrect where nothing is taboo. In one scene JJ tells his father, he can’t hit a woman, in which he replies, “I give ‘equal opportunity’ a** whoopin’s.” Watching “Shaft” is similar to hanging out with that inappropriate friend who says stuff you know you shouldn’t laugh at, but just can’t help it.
Shaft manages more laughs than most action comedies and it’s funnier than it should be.