Shaft

"OK"

Shaft Review


More a cookie-cutter tough- cop- who- plays- by- his- own- rules shoot-'em-up than an updated Blaxploitation action flick, John Singleton's "Shaft" revival features loud hand cannons with endless rounds of ammunition, handsomely gritty five boroughs photography, a killer pimp soundtrack (naturally) and Samuel L. Jackson appropriately cast as that bad-ass cultural icon, the private dick who's a sex machine to all the chicks.

Writer-director Singleton -- who at age 23 made the powerful portrait of day-to-day urban danger "Boyz in the 'Hood" then went into a career slide with "Rosewood," "Higher Learning" and "Poetic Justice" -- chose to bring back the series rather than remake this genre classic. Instead he updated it by having Richard Roundtree revive his role as John Shaft and have Jackson play his nephew -- a New York cop whose disregard for the rule book gets the job done but makes him a nightmare for his superiors.

As such, the new "Shaft" doesn't have much to offer creatively. The witness-protection plot is utterly generic stuff (crooked cops, vato gangsters, etc.) and Singleton, smelling a potential franchise here and not about to rock the boat, plays the picture 100-percent by the book (ironically).

Without the overstated sexuality, the distinctive afros and glorious cheese factor of its 1970s inspiration, this "Shaft" depends on its large personalities. Fortunately with Samuel L. Jackson copping huge bad dude attitude in the lead, that's not a problem.

Shiny bald and decoratively bearded (his facial hair looks almost like fire painted on the side of a funny car), sporting an Armani leather duster and expensive shades he can peel off to reveal his deadly stare for dramatic effect, Jackson is smooth-baby-smooth as John Shaft. He can make a dirty come on ("It's my duty to please that booty.") sound smooth, he's quick on the trigger and even quicker with the smack talk. "It's Giuliani time," he says when he's getting ready to dispense some street justice.

Almost as memorable are the film's two antagonists. Christian Bale ("American Psycho") is positively repulsive as a snide rich boy on the lam and on Shaft's hit list after beating a black guy to death for dating a white girl. Jeffrey Wright ("Ride with the Devil"), who cops almost as much attitude as Jackson, makes something unique from his stock Puerto Rican gang leader, seeking revenge on Shaft for humiliating him.

Singleton's choice to jettison the Blaxploitation flavor for a more modern, gritty cop flick motif, comes as a disappointment. I mean, the trappings of the genre were half the fun of the '70s "Shaft" flicks. But Singleton does stick to old school action: A ghetto foot chase, a grills-in-the-camera car chase and a couple duck-and-cover shoot-outs are the movie's big set pieces -- not excessive explosions photographed in slow motion from 18 different angles.

These scenes are pure tradition, but other story elements feel more like they're second-hand goods. The movie might have been better if Singleton had sought ways around the cop movie clichés that pepper the script and been a little more subtle about wanting to pilot his picture onto the sequel fast track.

But while the new "Shaft" may be far more forgettable than its namesake, the flick has soul, brother. And when we're talkin' 'bout Shaft, that's what counts.



Shaft

Facts and Figures

Genre: Action/Adventure

Run time: 99 mins

In Theaters: Friday 16th June 2000

Box Office USA: $70.3M

Box Office Worldwide: $107.2M

Budget: $46M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Paramount Pictures, Scott Rudin Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Fresh: 76 Rotten: 36

IMDB: 5.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson as John Shaft, as Peoples Hernandez, as Walter Wade, Jr., as Rasaan, as Jack Roselli, as Diane Palmieri, as (Uncle) John Shaft, as Judge Dennis Bradford, as Walter Wade Senior, as Carmen Vasquez, as Luger

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

Advertisement
The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.