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June 26, 2019

Shaft (2019) --- "The Sequel To Shaft Which Is The Sequel To Shaft."

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     As an FBI analyst, John Shaft Jr. AKA JJ (Jessie Usher) is dedicated to his career, his mother, Maya (Regina Hall), and his best friends Sasha (Alexandra Shipp) and Karim (Avan Jogia). However, things take a turn for the worst when Karim dies in Harlem from an overdose, despite being on a promising road to recovery. Determined to discover what happened to Karim and who killed him, JJ reluctantly seeks help from his estranged father Shaft (Samuel L Jackson), who was pushed out of his life 25 years ago when Maya left him fearing that his violent lifestyle would kill their son. Unprepared for his father’s blunt, aggressive, sexual ways, JJ is overwhelmed by Shaft’s eager response to the job. Nevertheless, JJ and Shaft make for an uneasy team as they hit the streets Harlem chasing down leads and slapping around suspects while also trying to reconnect as a family. Will they be able to mend their father/son bond? Or will they go their separate ways once everything is said and done?

     Directed by Tim Story (Ride Along 2), written by Kenya Barris (Black-ish, Girls Trip) and Alex Barnow (The Goldbergs, Mr. Sunshine), and based on the novel by Ernest Tidyman, Shaft (2019) is the sequel to the film Shaft (2000) which is the sequel to the TV series Shaft (1971), and while this film does acknowledge the rest of the series, it also makes a big effort in separating itself and standing on its own. The film chooses to go the cartoon route that is more focused on delivering a slapstick action film filled with all sorts of R-rated silliness. This sudden change in tone is a big leap from the smooth coolness that was established back in 1971, and the result allows for the writing to be a bit predictable with some one-dimensional humor that is occasionally broken up by shoot-outs and car chases. Nevertheless, the story and the humor was entertaining, especially if you go in knowing what to expect from director Tim Story and Samuel L. Jackson.
     The cast performances were good. Samuel L. Jackson (Spider-Man: Far From Home) returns to reprise the role he played 19 years ago and he delivers an unapologetic toxically masculine savage performance that is perfect for this film. Jessie T. Usher (Independence Day: Resurgence, Almost ) as JJ helps to balance the aggressiveness of Jackson’s performance with a performance that is charming, funny, and evolves into something more over the course of the film. Richard Roundtree’s (Shaft 1971) reprisal is a nice throwback for fans of the original and his chemistry with Jackson and Usher’s characters is great. The supporting cast - Avan Jogia (Now Apocolypse), Alexandra Shipp (X-Men: Dark Phoenix), and Regina Hall (Girls Trip, Little) -  gave great performances as well, although I do wish that there was more screen time from Avan Jogia but I am a bit biased because he is one of my favorite actors.
     Overall, Shaft (2019) was a fun, hilarious, action-pack film that I found to be very entertaining. If you are a fan of the 20o0 film or even of the 1971 TV show then I think you will enjoy this film. Keep in mind, though, that this film is rated R so it’s not for the faint of heart and be prepared to hear a lot of vulgar language and sexual innuendos. Nevertheless, the story and the humor were entertaining, and the cast performances were great. I would recommend this film for both theater viewing and renting later on.

Final Vote --- 6.5 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar
Central Intelligence (2016)
Hot Pursuit (2015)
Night School (2018)
The Other Guys (2010)
The Ride Along (2014)
The Ride Along 2 (2016)
Shaft (2000)
Taxi (2004)

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