I'll start this one off by openly admitting that I have not yet seen any 'Shaft' films, so my homework wasn't exactly at its peak going into this. But at the same time, I'm talkin' 'bout Shaft. If you're familiar with the title, even slightly, you pretty much understand what you're walking into. Shaft is kinda like the James Bond of a little subgenre of movies known as "Blaxploitation"; the exploitation of black people, especially with regard to stereotyped roles in movies (here's a Wiki article on the subject).
Anyway, long story short, much like with 'Godzilla' where I paid to see monsters beat the crap out of each other, with 'Shaft', I know I'm paying to watch Samuel L. Jackson at his Samuel L. Jacksonest (which is still 'Pulp Fiction', by the way, don't be fooled). I wasn't exactly disappointed, but I have to admit that the film left a little to be desired. With that said, again, I hadn't seen anything 'Shaft' related before this, so I only very slightly knew the character. Top be perfectly fair, I went into this with my own expectations, didn't get them, and it's an "oh well, maybe next time" situation... not a "please rewrite this whole thing" situation - I'm looking at you, 'Game of Thrones' fans.
Anyway, getting back on track, this chapter starts in the late 80's where we see John Shaft (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maya Babanikos (Regina Hall), one can only assume one of his many flings, get caught in the middle of a shootout. The catch, they have a kid together in the back seat, so John takes off in order to keep them protected.
Fast-forward to present day, where we meet J.J. Shaft (Jessie T. Usher), the kid from the back seat. He's now a data analyst, working for the FBI, and was, shall we say, brought up very far away from the mean streets? Anyway, after his friend dies by what looks like a heroin overdose, J.J. discovers that the overdose quantity would have been impossible to self-inflict. He then calls on the help of his Dad, the legendary John Shaft, to help him get to the bottom of things.
I ended up finding the film enjoyable, overall, but it wasn't exactly anything new or different. It was pretty much your standard buddy cop film, featuring non-cops John and J.J. Shaft - the reckless one and the straight and narrow one. We also get a cameo here from Richard Roundtree as John Shaft Sr., and that's surely a treat for people who are more familiar with the material, as he was the original Shaft from '71. But I guess he also showed up in the 2000 film, so again, not entirely new or special.
It seems perfectly clear that you'd be going into this to be entertained, only if you know what to expect. The film wasn't without its charm, and I can't deny that I pretty much did get what I paid for. But really, one could wait for this to come along on home video or even TV, and you'd be fine. It's not a big-screen-must-see or anything. Just a fun, mindless action movie, maybe for a Sunday afternoon/evening. It's passable, but nothing special.
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