Review: ‘Shaft’, It’s His Duty To Please Our…

After almost two decades, Shaft is back! Man, do I wish Samuel L. Jackson decided to throw the iconic Shaft black turtleneck on sooner and not make us wait so long. This chapter of the series focuses on Shaft’s son, John ‘JJ’ Shaft Jr. (Jessie Usher). JJ’s mother Maya (Regina Hall), took him away from Shaft (Samuel L. Jackson) when he was a baby, attempting to raise him in a safer place and protect him from Shaft and all the chaos that seems to follow him. About 25 years later, JJ has graduated from MIT and is working as a data analyst for the FBI, or for ‘the man’, as Shaft constantly reminds him. One of JJ’s childhood friends, Karim (Avan Jogia), dies from what is ruled an overdose. JJ has his doubts and when his other childhood friend Sasha (Alexandra Shipp) – who is now a doctor – tells him that the amount of heroin found during the autopsy was astronomical and that Karim wouldn’t have been able to inject himself with that much, JJ is convinced that foul play is involved.

JJ directly disobeys his stereotypical hardass boss, Special Agent Vietti (Titus Welliver), and tries to find some answers himself. Unfortunately (for JJ, not us), even his tech savvy skills don’t get the same results as Shaft’s brand of questioning. JJ seeks out his father and tries to convince him to help find out who killed Karim. Shaft believes that Karim’s death may be related to a drug kingpin named Gordito (Isaach De Bankolé) who he has been chasing for decades but has somehow eluded him. The opportunity to take down Gordito, while putting himself in the good graces of his son, is just too good of an opportunity for Shaft to pass up. Without spoiling too much of the plot, shit goes down and Shaft realizes he may need help from an older, wiser, and more heavily armed Shaft – so JJ and Shaft go to visit John Shaft, Sr. (Richard Roundtree) to bring him in on the fun.

Shaft is one hell of a good time. Sure the movie is ridiculous, and of course plenty of things happen that are not realistic in the slightest and wouldn’t go down like that in real life, but who cares? Sometimes you just need to check belief at the door and sit back for the ride with a big bag of popcorn and that is the exact type of movie Shaft is. There are plenty of laughs, hysterical one liners, action from beginning to end, and we get to see three generations of Shafts grace the screen. The acting isn’t always top notch – Samuel L. and Richard Roundtree are fantastic, but there are times when Jessie Usher’s performance leaves something to be desired. This doesn’t really take away anything from the film – let’s be real, no one came to see a Shaft movie in search of an Oscar-worthy performance. Director Tim Story and writers Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow do a great job of capturing the Shaft swag and essence throughout the film and the interactions between Shaft and JJ are hilarious. The theme song alone is probably worth going to see the movie, but luckily enough for all of us this Shaft movie can carry its own weight. It is definitely worth the price of admission, but just a reminder – it is a hard R (as it should be) so leave the kids at home and let Shaft please that booty.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5