Shaft Sr. still provides the goods: if only his offspring wasn’t such a weakling.
I did an article a few weeks ago with reviews on the two original “Shaft” stars Richard Roundtree and Samuel L. Jackson. Roundtree was the first John Shaft, and Jackson portrayed his nephew. Although these two actors were respectively entertaining, their actual movies weren’t because of their generic writing.
As I said in that article: “I don’t hate these movies at all. I admire Jackson and Roundtree for keeping their groove and using them to fight racism; I just wish their movies were as compelling as they are.”
Now, the next “Shaft” features Jessie T. Usher (“Independence Day: Resurgence,” “Almost Christmas”) as Jackson’s son John Shaft, Jr., but he isn’t as cool as his predecessors. In fact, the movie has to portray him as a mild-mannered kid.
Jr. is also an FBI data analyst, who decides to step up a notch by solving the mystery of his friend’s (Avan Jogia) death. He’s often treated as a reject, based on his wimpy personality. Even his daddy thinks his mama (Regina Hall) has soften him up.
And apparently, it’s the law of the movies that he has to have a d*ckhead boss (Titus Welliver). It’s too irritating for me to take.
Anyway, he needs his pop to help him solve the murder mystery. And that’s a big step, considering the fact that he abandoned him as a baby. He has a good reason.
The funniest moments involve Samuel L. Jackson using his words and style to portray his tough ladies man side. I laughed when he accuses his son of not loving women and how he breaks a drug dealer’s (Ian Casselberry) hand. He’s still got it.
Jessie T. Usher can be a good actor, if only he’s given professional writing. The two movies I’ve seen him in were bad, and here, he has to be the standard sissy. And the scenes of him getting abused gets really old and exhausting.
And isn’t it obvious that he would eventually man up? Trust me, I’ve seen it done so many times.
And when does Uncle Shaft come in? He comes in when Jr’s girlfriend (Alexandra Shipp) gets kidnapped by the film’s bad guys, and he and Sr. need more ammo. He wants in on the action.
I like how Director Tim Story (“Ride Along,” “Fantastic Four”) keeps the blaxploitation spirit alive with the classic hits (James Brown, Rock James, among others), score (by Christopher Lennertz), and style. If only he could get talented writers with a smart script.
This “Shaft” continuation is funny and nostalgic at times, but it ends up being dull and routine. That’s not cool, man.