Noob Reviews: Shaft (2019)
Updated: Sep 13, 2020
Please be advised that during the review, I have tried to avoid a lot of spoilers. However, there may still be a few included helping explain specific points.
What is Shaft about?
First brought to us in 1971 by the legendary Richard Roundtree, who played Shaft for three films (Shaft, Shaft’s Big Score! and Shaft In Africa). Then picked up in 2000 for the Shaft reboot by Samuel Jackson. The Shaft 2019 film is the latest in a long-running and fantastic series that spans almost fifty years. Shaft (2019) as you may or may not know was a controversial addition to the franchise as it stepped away from the usual crime action style and became a crime comedy.
The story to the most recent film revolves around John Shaft Junior (JJ) who is out to uncover the truth behind his friend Karim’s death. A military veteran clean of his drug addiction after months of hard work and rehabilitation. Who is found outside of a drug den with enough narcotics in his body to kill ten people. JJ begins his investigation alongside his day job as an analyst for the FBI but is soon stalled when he is beaten up by henchman of the owner of the drug den (Manuel). Determined to see his friend’s murderers brought to justice, JJ turns to Shaft (John Shaft) his father who he believed abandoned him and his mother (Maya) when he was a child.
As the story progresses, we see Shaft take JJ under his wing and educate him in the ways of the street whilst at the same time getting to know his son properly for the first time. It is not long though before Shaft realises one of his long-running enemies and the reason he lost Maya and JJ in the first place - may be involved. A sinister and ruthless drug kingpin by the name of Gordito.
Needless to say, there are many throwbacks to the previous Shaft films, many an Easter egg and some solid love interest stories too as JJ tries to woo his long time friend Sasha. And Shaft tries to woo and win back his ‘one that got away’ Maya.
Do you have a trailer to show us?
- The official trailer linked from Netflix’s YouTube channel -
When did it come out?
Shaft was released as a Netflix exclusive in June 2019, however, is now available on most platforms to buy.
Who are some of the actors and actresses that we might know?
Jessie T. Usher (JJ Shaft)
Regina Hall (Maya Babanikos)
Richard Roundtree (John Shaft Senior)
Samuel L. Jackson (John Shaft)
Titus Welliver (Agent Vietti)
For a full cast listing, please see the official IMDB page here.
What did you think of Shaft?
I won’t lie that when I first saw this film announced I screamed in excitement and to date have watched it multiple times. Although at first, I was nervous to see how the comedy aspect would work into the vibe, I must say it has been an exciting change that may be hated by many - but I think it works well. With an interesting and adult sense of humour, nothing is too risque for the straight-talking, lady slaying, uppercutting Shaft. The humour is well-timed, executed with precision and yet does not make a complete mockery of the franchise.
The 2019 film has admittedly a very generic story that you have probably seen a few times before, with each having its unique take, so I can not rank that too highly. But I believe the way the film approaches its turn is worthy of a head nod. Plus, the inclusion of all three generations of Shaft, including the original and legendary Richard Roundtree is an excellent addition as he had minimal screen time in the 2000 reboot. When it comes to the choreography, cinematography and action sequences, no expense has been spared to ensure the perfect moment is captured and included. You can feel the presence of each of the Shaft incarnations. The supporting characters are energetic and full of banter. And even Gordito has a look that is enough to give you that chill down your spine that lets you know he will be an excellent villain to the piece - even if he does play (in the grand scheme of things) a very tiny part in the story and has a short amount of screen time.
When I was reading previous reviews from other people for the 2019 film, there is a lot of dislike for the new action-comedy approach the Shaft film took especially compared to the last four that could get down and dirty with the best of crime action films. Although on the one hand, I can see where the viewers and critics are coming from, I thought this brave new direction was a right choice and opened the franchise up to so many new generations of viewers - who may even go back and watch the older films too. Which if you have not done, I highly recommend.
Although a fanboy for the Shaft franchise, the 2019 Shaft has its pros and cons. Throughout it is energetic, has a solid pace that just increases incrementally at the right time and is structured brilliantly. On the other hand, at times, there could have been more action and fewer jokes/comedy, BUT each viewer will appreciate or dislike different parts of the film. All I can do is highly recommend you check this one out for yourself as I thoroughly enjoyed it and cannot recommend it enough.
What rating would you give Shaft?
I would rate Shaft a solid 4.75 out of 5 bananas.
A robust all round film that balances action and comedy well. With a fantastic cast, some real screen presence and many memorable moments and one-lines - whether you have seen Shaft films before; or are brand new to the franchise - this is definitely worth a look!
Thank you very much for checking out the review. If you are interested in Shaft and would like to check it out for yourself, to form your own opinion. You can check it out here if you have a Netflix subscription. Or on Amazon here.