When Shaft first came out in 1971 (Juice Rating 79/100) I do not think they had any idea that in 2019 there would be a third generation of the iconic character. I will be the first to admit I am not an expert on Blaxploitation, I just like movies and I understand how influential that original movie was. Richard Roundtree played Shaft and went on to make two sequels and a tv series based on the character.
They brought the character back in 2000 (Juice Rating 64/100) as the “Uncle” to the new John Shaft played by the one and only Samuel L. Jackson. This movie, directed by the late great John Singleton (RIP) made the series much more violent but also brought some fun and more mythology to the overall Shaft Universe (LOL). That movie also has an ALL TIME Jeffrey Wright performance that should go into the over acting hall of fame.
Now, Tim Story has taken the reins of the franchise and decided to create a third generation for the Shaft family to give us all of the family attributes into the original Shaft’s grandson. The canon is a bit confusing and they try to clean it up in a couple quick montages and lines in this, however people do not go see Shaft for the long running mythology. Shaft (2019) is about John Shaft Jr. (the Third? who knows) who is a data analyst at the FBI, and he finds himself in a murder investigation when a childhood friend is found dead from an apparent overdose. He involves his estranged Dad (Sam Jackson) and the Grandpa he never knew existed (Richard Roundtree) for a fun romp through the streets of Harlem.
There is a lot to like in this movie, the music was great, the action was wild, and there was a ton of humor. I think the only issues was just a confusing story and again those continuity issues with the overall franchise. Let’s get to the performances.
Stock Up – Jessie Usher is a guy I have not seen before and I thought he did a great job in this. He had to bounce from nerdy data analyst to hardcore street protector throughout the movie and he was very convincing and funny throughout. There is a good crop of young Black actors now with Michael B. Jordan, John David Washington, Daniel Kaluuya, Brian Tyree Henry, John Boyega, etc.. which I think is great for the future of the movie industry.
Stock Neutral – As I said in my review of Captain Marvel he is just playing Sam Jackson at this point in every movie. But damn if I do not love it every time. He absolutely crushes it in this movie and I have never seen anyone more comfortable on a screen.
Stock Up – My girl Regina Hall is having a moment right now. She just starred in Little, she is on Black Monday on Showtime, and still had time to put in good minutes in this. She played Jrs. Mom and Sam Jackson’s ex and fit right into the universe beautifully.
Stock Neutral – Richard Rountree is a little older, but still brought the heat. He was incredible in his limited role in the movie. This franchise was his creation, and I am very happy to see him continue with it.
Stock Down – I gotta be honest I do not know if I am in on Alexandra Shipp yet. She is overall not great in the X-Men movies (granted she does not have much to do), but she also was not my favorite part of this as well. She played JJ’s love interest and it just did not totally work for me, maybe due to a lack of chemistry in my eyes. I definitely am not ruling stardom out for her yet, I just think there is work to be done.
*A couple other tidbits
- Method Man will make me smile any time he is on screen.
- Is Lauren Velez Back? Haven’t seen her much since Dexter and now she was in Spider Verse and this.
- There is an extreme amount of cussing in this movie.
This is not a perfect movie by any means, and has a lot of dialogue and story problems. However, it has so much fun and there is some heart there that makes this an enjoyable flick. And when all suit up…FIRE!
*All of my movie ratings can be found here.