I am a member of the Samuel L. Jackson cult. I just think the man is cool. And I thought Shaft was going to be this ultra smooth way of celebrating all that is good about Sam Jackson and all that he contributes to the culture.
Turns out, we should have left Shaft in the past. You can’t drag him into 2019 without updating the character at all, but the screenwriters here were so lazy that they made Shaft, once the paragon of hip and with it, into an old man dangerously out of touch. The movie starts out sexist, runs straight into homophobia, dips into racism, slams into Islamophobia real hard, then circles back into homophobic and sexist grounds again. Shaft is not cool. There is nothing cool about a man who abandons his kid and then, upon their reunion 25 years later, mocks him for smart, employed, and educated.
Shaft’s son Shaft Junior (Jessie T. Usher) uses his friend’s suspicious death as an excuse to reconnect with his deadbeat dad, and the two work the case together, eventually involving Grandpa (Richard Roundtree) for good measure. The first gunfight is cool. The next five are tedious.The three generations look pretty cool strutting around in identical turtlenecks though.
The weird thing is, I didn’t hate the movie (though I have a tendency to overvalue movies I watch on planes). I hate what they did to Shaft. He deserved better. I believe Shaft would have changed with the times. He would have stayed ahead of the curve, in fact. But that’s the worst kind of disappointing: when a movie had potential but was too lazy to fulfill it. What a waste. You had Samuel L. Jackson, guys! This should have been a slam dunk and it’s embarrassing that it wasn’t.
Here you go. Now you don’t have to see the movie.