My first problem with this version of Shaft is that it’s not called Shafts. Why not add the “s” since the Shaft family — father, son, and grandfather — are all in this. The last version of Shaft was directed by John Singleton, who passed away almost two months ago. I’m guessing if he were alive to see this, he would’ve been disappointed. In fact, most people watching a movie with this much misogyny, sexism, and homophobia (in this day and age) probably will be, too. We’d let a lot of that go if the movie were actually funny. It’s easy to get past a flawed hero, but damn. He just treats women so bad in this, that it’s not the least bit cool.
John Shaft Jr. (Jesse T. Usher), is a cyber security expert with a degree from MIT. He wants to do more for the FBI and analyze data, but he’s got one of those bosses you only see in the movies — barking at him and treating him like a doormat. The character is so wimpy and awkward, that also seems cartoonish, too (although it does make for a funny line when he’s called “Don Lemon”).
When an Army war vet and childhood friend (Avan Jogia) ODs on heroin, he gets suspicious. That means he enlists the help of his dad (Samuel L. Jackson). In the early part of the movie, we’re treated to a series of bizarre and unfunny clips, showing dad sending inappropriate gifts to his kid. When he shows up at his dad’s office, a half-naked woman opens the door. I can’t describe what Shaft Sr. has on his face, before he says something snarky, as he shoos her away. Now, it’s not that I’m a prude. I actually laughed a lot when the private dick (no pun intended) in the puppet movie The Happytime Murders did something similar. We also think it’s cool the way James Bond seduces women; but…the way it’s done here doesn’t work on any level.
Director Tim Story (who did the Ride Along and Fantastic Four movies) did a serviceable job, but I blame the writers (one of them being Kenya Barris who created the show Black-ish).
A few jokes got repetitive and weren’t funny the first time. One of them being about a group that helps war vets called “Brothers Watching Brothers.” The joke about the title was rather insensitive, too.
I usually hate the cliche scene of a shoot-out or fight, with a cheesy song playing, yet it was cute when we heard The Ronettes “Be My Baby” during one such scene. That’s because Shaft Jr. hates guns, and the woman he has a crush on (Alexandra Shipp), has seemingly put him in the “friend zone” partly because of his wimpiness. That scene changes things a bit.
Regina Hall is also in this, in a rather annoying supporting role.
There were funny jokes about Laurence Fishburne, another about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and a couple other laughs in this.
Shoot-outs usually bore me in films, and they did here (although it was clever to hear the sound of a piano that took a few bullets).
It was a blast seeing the original Shaft, Richard Roundtree, looking great with his white beard and mustache. It’s a shame he wasn’t in it a bit more. And, there’s yet another barfing scene, which lead the stat to 63 % of all movies having a throw-up scene.
In this movie, it’s the audience that gets the shaft.
1 ½ stars out of 5.