Shaft (2019)

Production Company: Davis Entertainment/Khalabo Ink Society/New Line Cinema/Netflix/Warner Bros.
Distributor: New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. (USA), Netflix (UK)
Released: 10 June 2019 (New York premiere), 14 June 2019 (USA), 28 June 2019 (UK, streaming only)
Running Time: 111 mins
Budget: $30,000,000 (estimated)
Gross: To follow

Director: Tim Story; Writer: Alex Barnow, Kenya Barris (based on the characters created by Ernest Tidyman); Producer: John Davis; Executive Producers: Tim Story, Ira Napoliello, Kenya Barris, Marc S. Fischer, Richard Brener, Josh Mack; Original Music: Christopher Lennertz;  Cinematography: Larry Blanford;  Editor: Peter S. Elliot; Casting Director: Vickie Thomas; Art Director: Jeremy Woolsey, Brittany Hites; Set Decoration: Missy Parker; Costume Designer: Olivia Miles; Makeup: Kimberly Jones; Production Supervisor: Allison Furgal; Assistant Director: Mathew Dunne; Sound: Sean McCormack .

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 Rolle (Cocktail Waitress), Ryan King Scales (Male Secretary), Tywayne Wheatt (Portly Doorman), Kenny Barr (Cop), 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), Shakur Sozahdah (Worshiper).

SYNOPSIS
JJ, aka John Shaft Jr. (Usher), may be a cybersecurity 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’s no denying family. Besides, Shaft’s got an agenda of his own, and a score to settle that’s professional and personal.

NOTES

  • The film was released on Netflix streaming services internationally two weeks after its theatrical release in the USA.
  • Roundtree again reprises his role as the original John Shaft. This time he is Jackson’s biological father rather than his uncle.

QUOTES
John Shaft Jr.: You can’t beat up a woman!
John Shaft II: Why not?
John Shaft Jr.: Because she’s a woman! That’s like, misogynistic!
John Shaft II: You’re the one being misogynistic, I never even mentioned her gender! I’m an equal-opportunity ass-whooper!

John Shaft I: Boy, back in the day, we didn’t need guns. All we needed was our bare knuckles.
[reveals an arsenal of firearms]
John Shaft I: But you can’t be too prepared.

BOTTOM LINE
Misguided continuation of the Shaft legacy is one misstep after another. Firstly Story re-tools the franchise as an action comedy that attempts to wring laughs from the generation gap separating Jackson’s John Shaft II from his son JJ, played far too broadly by Usher. Jackson’s Shaft also suffers by being made into a caricature of the character he portrayed in the 2000 series continuation. The plot thread that brings the two Shafts together is given scant focus by an incredibly lazy script by Barris and Barnow. Roundtree, as the original John Shaft, appears late in the proceedings and delivers the best performance with a dry understated delivery that has more class than is seen in his character namesakes.

REVIEWS
Shaft is also funny, with a sharp, fast-paced humor (though one transphobic joke is a tone-deaf clunker). And it’s always enjoyable to watch Jackson walking around while dropping f-bombs (and mother-f-bombs) all over the place.” – Kristen Page-Kirby, Washington Post, 12 June 2019

“…the plotting is so leaden and the fire fights so pro forma that not even the sight of the three Shafts in action can keep this film from sinking under its own weight. Yes, the great Isaac Hayes music makes an appearance, but the old days are gone and they are not coming back.” – Kenneth Turan, LA Times, 12 June 2019

“The screenwriters’ hit-the-nail-on-the-head manner of plot and character revelation could scarcely be more obvious, although sometimes the extreme differences can’t help but summon up some laughs.” – Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter, 12 June 2019

“How jokes this offensive can make it to the screen in 2019 is beyond comprehension and a bit of a shame, considering that this has so much else going for it including a delightful late-game appearance by the original Shaft, Richard Roundtree, who looks fantastic, by the way.” – Lindsay Bahr, The Associated Press, 13 June 2019

Links to Aggregator Review Sites:
Rotten Tomatoes
Metacritic
Movie Review Query Engine

DVD
Region 1 (US) – 24 September 2019.
Region 2 (UK) – To follow

BLU-RAY
Region Free (US) – 24 September 2019.
Extras include: Can Ya Dig It? The Making of Shaft; A Complicated Man: The Shaft Legacy – Part One: A Bad Mother Born; A Complicated Man: The Shaft Legacy – Part Two: No Questions Asked; A Complicated Man: The Shaft Legacy – Part Three: A Legend of His Time; Deleted Scenes; Gag Reel.
Region Free (UK) – To follow.

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