“You see this cat Shaft is a bad mother (Shut your mouth!)”
We all remember that iconic line from the Oscar winning Theme From Shaft by Isaac Hayes in 1971. And it is repeated in the latest Shaft movie, with less polite editing. Whether you like the original Shaft movie or character, the song is unique, powerful and playful. It evokes imagery of the time, Afro-style.
If you’re looking for polite, this film is quite the opposite. It is loaded from curb to gutter with N-words, F-words, M-words, C-words, B-words and whatever other letter-word you can imagine. Even John Shaft’s Millennial son John Shaft Junior is offended, and asks his dad to stop using the N-word.
Junior also apologizes for Dad’s behavior, “He thinks he’s the black James Bond.” Dad responds, “If that dude was real, he’d wanna be me.”
What is it about Samuel L. Jackson that’s so fun to watch? He’s become a virtual parody of himself. His badass self. You expect him to be foul, fierce and forgiveable, and he always delivers.
But wait, you say, Richard Roundtree played Shaft in the original movie. Did he get too old to reprise the role in 2019? Heck no, he’s just Grandpa Shaft now at age 76, a dapper, fine looking fellow who keeps an arsenal in a secret closet in his apartment. Interesting, since Jackson is 70, but a young 70 who can pull off the generational divide.
The story is fairly ludicrous, and is thus considered an action crime comedy. You know those bad guys who can’t seem to hit the broad side of a barn – in the barn? They unload hundreds of rounds to Shafts single clip, and he decimates entire gangs. You realize you just need to duck when a machine gun is being unloaded into your car? Shaft knows. Right on! Oh, and Junior can shoot, he just hates guns.
So John Shaft Junior (Jessie T. Usher) seeks his Dad’s help solving the murder of his best friend. This leads into a world of alleged Muslim terrorists, drug dealers and dance clubs. Yes, to Dad’s surprise, Junior knows the art of Brazilian dance-fighting. That gets him out of one scrape, and then he throws up on two hookers. Dad just roles his eyes and continues to mentor him in the ways of street violence and sex. After all, he thinks Junior’s mama raised him to be a white boy. He’ll have none of that.
Tim Story is in the Director’s chair for this, the 5th film in the Shaft series. About the only credit attributed to him that I recognize is Fantastic Four in 2005. Other than that, he’s done mostly TV work.
By the end of the movie, the three generations of Shaft men are seen striding through the streets of Harlem in matching shades and burgundy suede dusters, ready for the sixth film in the series.
I need to say at this point, do not bring your kids to this movie. Recently I saw two parents taking their perhaps 6 and 8 year old daughters to see John Wick III. Come on people!
Shaft (2019) runs 1 hour and 51 minutes and is rated R.
Should I see this movie?