Film review: Shaft 2019 on Netflix
PUBLISHED: 11:35 23 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:35 23 July 2019
Samuel L. Jackson returns as the detective with sass
Despite its faults, there was a great deal of fun to be had in John Singleton's Shaft (2000) with Samuel L. Jackson's dependably charismatic performance as the titular NYPD detective and Christian Bale's bigoted antagonist being particular highlights of the tremendously enjoyable sequel to Gordon Parks' iconic 1971 film of the same name.
Almost two decades later, however, Tim Story's follow-up contains none of that film's charm or sense of fun.
Following the death of friend Karim (Avan Jogia) FBI analyst John 'JJ' Shaft Jr (Jessie Usher) resolves to uncover the truth behind his companion's demise, recruiting his estranged father John Shaft II (Jackson) to help as he dives into Harlem's criminal underbelly.
There is interesting material to be mined both in the drastically different personalities of the father son duo and in the hard-bitten Shaft Sr's adjustment to the modern, technology dependent world.
Instead, Story is far more interested in JJ's bland romance with childhood sweetheart Sasha (Alexandra Shipp) and delivering poorly executed set-pieces than offering anything in the way of character depth or narrative dexterity.
This would all be forgivable if Usher and the rest of the cast possessed half of Jackson's magnetism here; unfortunately they don't and whenever he is off-screen the film flounders.
Still, the violent, action-packed final act is enjoyable enough and there is great pleasure in watching Jackson's Shaft sparring with his equally sardonic father (Richard Roundtree).
While Jackson and Roundtree's turns offer bursts of enjoyment, Story's film is a perfunctory instalment in the Shaft franchise.