Shaft utilizes father-son dynamic for laughs to overcome
convoluted story and character’s social shortcomings
WATCH THE TRAILER(S) HERE:
Now, 20 years later, John Shaft Jr. – JJ (Jessie T. Usher) for short – is making his own way in the world as a data analyst at the FBI. A graduate of MIT, JJ is good with his hands, even if his sense of style and personality are not traditional in terms of the male Shaft family name. Then JJ’s best friend Karim (Avan Jogia) get killed.
Looking for answers with his other best friend Sasha (Alexandra Shipp), JJ ultimately decides to turn to help from the one person least likely to give it to him: his dad. As you might expect, a two decade gap in his child’s life leads to some serious daddy issues .. But once father and son learn the ins and outs of the case, it might be time for a family reunion if they are going to survive and get to the truth about what happened to Karim.
Then again, there isn’t too much to worry about moving forward as the plot is pretty much standard action movie fare (someone dies, the simplest answer is too simple and there’s a bigger conspiracy afoot). This is why Jackson’s full-on Sam Jax mode performance coupled with Usher’s fish out of water routine are so critical to the film’s overall entertainment level. Throw in a soundtrack that may make longstanding fans of African-American cinema wish for the days of the 1990s when every hit urban film came with a classic album to boot and Shaft makes up for its shortcomings well-enough to give the people what they want: Samuel Jackson cursing and taking names like no one else can, Hall giving it back to him and enough laughs to go around. It’s far from perfect, but it will please the majority of modern audiences here for a good time (even if it’s not really a great movie as much as it is an okay one).
As the theme song said so many moons ago, you’ll probably be better off just shutting your mouth and accepting it for what it is instead of thinking about what it could have been or should be.