Shaft is an action-comedy directed by Tim Story and written by Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow. Unlike its predecessor, which was distributed by Paramount Pictures, this film is produced by New Line Cinema and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is the fifth film in the Shaft film series and a sequel to the 2000 film with the same title. Given the last version of Shaft, I didn’t expect too much from this version — however, it ended up being pretty decent and pretty funny.
The film starts in 1989, John Shaft II (Samuel L. Jackson), his wife Maya Babanikos (Regina Hall) and their infant son, John “JJ” Shaft Jr., survives an assassination attempt by druglord, Pierro “Gordito” Carrera (Isaach de Bankolé). Concerned Shaft’s lifestyle would expose them to even more danger, Maya thought it best to leave her husband and raise their son on her own. 25 years later, JJ (Jessie Usher) is a grown man with a degree from MIT. He has just landed a position as a cybersecurity expert with the FBI.
After JJ’s childhood friend, Karim (Avan Jogia), dies a suspicious death, JJ concludes he must have been murdered, so he travels to Harlem to investigate further. The drug dealer who runs the neighborhood and sold the heroin that allegedly killed Karim, has JJ violently ejected from his property. While recovering in the hospital, another childhood friend, who is a nurse, Sasha (Alexandra Shipp) reads Karim’s toxicology report and realizes that the amount of heroin in Karim’s system would have killed him long before he could take that much by himself, providing proof he was murdered. With no other recourse, JJ turns to his father, John Shaft II, who is a private investigator, for assistance. Shaft agrees to help after realizing that JJ’s case may lead him to Gordito, who he has been holding a vendetta against for years. The two begin investigating together, but JJ’s progressive white-collar outlook on life clashes with Shaft’s old-school street ways. After confronting Manuel Orozco (Ian Casselberry) again, Shafts investigates “Brothers Watching Brothers”, the drug rehab clinic Karim was a part of. There they learn that Karim stopped going to rehab in favor of attending services at a mosque, currently under suspicion by the FBI for terrorism.
Apparently, this version of Shaft was the better of the two versions featuring Samuel L. Jackson. Some of the jokes were really funny. The plot was somewhat predictable but made sense. The story goes into Shaft’s raunchy lifestyle of women, booze, drugs and violence. For the most part, the acting was good however, Jessie Usher could use a bit more polishing. As usual, any movie with Samuel Jackson has way too much profanity. Shaft was no exception to the amount of bad language throughout the film. Also, the use of the “N” word was excessive. I understand in that space and time, the “N” word was considered only semi quasi bad, however, I could have done without it. Shaft will probably be offensive to some and some will be okay with the verbiage. The original Shaft Sr. (Richard Roundtree) was a nice touch to end the movie, however, I would wait for the DVD or skip it altogether. Shaft received mixed reviews from critics, but positive responses from audiences and has grossed $17 million. Check It Out if you dare!