Film Review (re-watch) – SHAFT (2019)

After more than a year, I decided to give the new Shaft another go. Whilst I enjoyed it more, I still can’t get past its faults and haven’t changed my opinion that it was a wasted opportunity…

SHAFT (2019, USA) **½
Action, Crime, Comedy
dist. New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. (USA), Netflix (UK); pr co. Davis Entertainment / Khalabo Ink Society / Netflix / New Line Cinema / Warner Bros.; d. Tim Story; w. Kenya Barris, Alex Barnow (based on the character created by Ernest Tidyman); exec pr. Kenya Barris, Richard Brener, Marc S. Fischer, Josh Mack, Ira Napoliello, Tim Story; pr. John Davis; assoc pr. Antoine Jenkins; ph. Larry Blanford (Colour. D-Cinema. Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Hawk Scope (anamorphic) (source format). 2.39:1); m. Christopher Lennertz; m sup. Trygge Toven, Dave Jordan; ed. Peter S. Elliot; pd. Wynn Thomas; ad. Jeremy Woolsey, Brittany Hites (additional photography); set d. Missy Parker; cos. Olivia Miles; m/up. Kimberly Jones, Shunika Terry; sd. Sean McCormack  (Dolby Digital); sfx. Russell Tyrrell; vfx. Nicole Rowley; st. Steven Ritzi; rel. 14 June 2019 (USA), 28 June 2019 (UK – internet); cert: 15; r/t. 111m.

cast: Samuel L. Jackson (John Shaft), Jessie T. Usher (JJ Shaft), Richard Roundtree (John Shaft, Sr.), Regina Hall (Maya Babanikos), Alexandra Shipp (Sasha Arias), Matt Lauria (Major Gary Cutworth), Titus Welliver (Special Agent Vietti), Method Man (Freddy P.), Isaach De Bankolé (Pierro ‘Gordito’ Carrera), Avan Jogia (Karim Hassan), Luna Lauren Velez (Bennie Rodriguez), Robbie Jones (Sergeant Keith Williams), Aaron Dominguez (Staff Sergeant Eddie Dominguez), Ian Casselberry (Manuel Orozco), Almeera Jiwa (Anam), Amato D’Apolito (Farik Bahar), Leland L. Jones (Ron), Jalyn Hall (Harlem Kid), Sylvia Jefferies (Once Beautiful Woman), Whit Coleman (Butch Lesbian Girl), Chivonne Michelle (Baby), Tashiana Washington (Sugar), Philip Fornah (Jacked Dude), Laticia Lee (Cocktail Waitress (as Laticia Rolle)), Ryan King Scales (Male Secretary), Tywayne Wheatt (Portly Doorman), Kenny Barr (Cop (Thomas)), Mike Dunston (News Anchor), Jordan Preston Carter (5-8 Year Old JJ), Nyah Marie Johnson (5-8 Year Old Sasha), Joey Mekyten (5-8 Year Old Karim), Sawyer Schultz (Mike Mitchell), Esmeree Sterling (Cute Bartender), Jose Miguel Vasquez (FBI Employee), Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez (Goon), Keith Brooks (Drunk Disorderly Man), DominiQue MrsGiJane Williams (Beautiful Woman), Michael Shikany (Older Man in Mosque), Lucia Scarano (Lady in Line), Greta Quispe (Employee), Heather Seiffert (Hostess), Charles Green (Hallway Man), Dorothi Fox (Old Lady Neighbor), Adrienne C. Moore (Ms. Pepper), Shakur Sozahdah (Worshiper).

JJ, aka John Shaft Jr. (Usher), may be a cyber security expert with a degree from MIT, but to uncover the truth behind his best friend’s untimely death, he needs an education only his dad can provide. Absent throughout JJ’s youth, the legendary locked-and-loaded John Shaft (Jackson) agrees to help his progeny navigate Harlem’s heroin-infested underbelly. And while JJ’s own FBI analyst’s badge may clash with his dad’s trademark leather coat, there is no denying family. Besides, Shaft’s got an agenda of his own, and a score to settle that is both professional and personal. This belated fifth film in the Shaft series is a misguided attempt to blend comedy with violent action. Although the comedy only occasionally strays into being too broad, the whole tone – mixing what could have been a serious story about drug smuggling with the generational gap in father/son relationships – is just off. Jackson does what Jackson does and for the most part does it well. Usher struggles to find the right level of performance, whilst Roundtree almost saves the movie with a neat cameo in the finale. Ultimately, however, it is difficult to buy into what Story is selling. Whilst it may please the popcorn crowd in search of mindless entertainment with its flashy visuals and hip dialogue, it will almost universally disappoint fans of the original movies through its lazy story-telling and its looking down on the Shaft legacy. Most of the movie was shot in Atlanta, doubling for New York.