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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

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