Shaft (2019) Recap

Jamie

Shaft! That bad mother-shut-your-mouth is back, Jack! And he is ready to rumble… with his son?! Gulp. Can this odd couple pairing team up to solve the mysterious death of one of Shaft Jr.’s friends (and perhaps even get the girl(s)) before it’s too late? Find out in… Shaft (2019).

How?! After years of estrangement from his private eye father for reasons of safety (and because Shaft is kinda a dick), Shaft Jr. has made his way from MIT (what, what!) all the way to the FBI. But when one of his friends turns up dead under tragic and suspicious circumstances, he seeks out his father to help infiltrate the underbelly of his native NYC. Immediately the elder Shaft is incredibly problematic. Apparently years of unsafe sex and alcohol have rotted his brain and he has been reduced to spewing constant “kids these days” style humor mixed with homophobia. Truly a sad state of affairs. But despite his clear brain disease elder Shaft is still able to help Shaft Jr. (who also kinda sucks) figure out what’s going on. In fact his friend didn’t die of an accidental overdose, but instead was killed as part of an elaborate cover-up for a drug ring. Locking and loading and showing everyone just how cool guns are (ladies love ‘em), they go in and not only get all the evidence of this drug ring, but also blow away everyone. Murder is fun and so is being a man. He then tells the man to suck it and goes to work with his dad and grandpa in the private eye business. Shaft! Big Question: Like… what happened? Like… seriously?

Why?! Shaft Jr. actually goes way above the call of duty to solve the mysterious death of his friend. He could have just accepted the accidental overdose story, but he keeps digging and I guess that’s because he’s a Shaft and because he loved his friend (awww). The bad guy is a drug dealer. He likes to deal drugs. Because it makes him money.

Who?! Method Man shows up in a fairly minor part. The part’s more like something that would go to a character actor than a cameo for a musician-turned-actor. But I guess that’s what Method Man is at this point. He’s an actor getting regular work in TV and movies.

What?! It’s hard to say that all the techmology in the film is even product placement. The amount that Shaft Jr. uses his iPhone and Apple laptop is probably reflective of how much a person actually would be using it. And yet I don’t think it can be said enough just how much advertisement Apple gets from films like this where they just want a generic snazzy tech storyline to “update” an old classic for the new generation.

Where?! NYC all the way. That would have been the biggest slap in the face if the film opened and it’s revealed that Shaft has moved to Atlanta. Or like is vacationing there and is always like “I’m on my vacation!” whenever something bad happens. But no, still NYC thank god. A.

When?! The toxicology report for Shaft Jr.’s friend is dated 10/29 for when the sample was collected. So everything takes place around then, which makes sense given the attire that everyone is wearing. But it’s tough. Wouldn’t be surprised if that is contradicted elsewhere in the film. C+

I enjoyed the original Shaft and then surprisingly had a lot of fun watching the 1999 version with Samual L. (bolstered by a stellar cast). As a result my brain pretty much melted when I started watching this film. They turned what was a fun and funny action film into a modern comedy like Central Intelligence. The acting is dire. The script is dire. My outlook on life was dire. When Samuel L. finally showed up I was relieved. Unfortunately his character, while occasionally still fun, was often reduced to unpleasant jokes that made me feel bad (since they were the only remotely funny things in the film). He became the butt of the joke, but also not enough to totally write off the fact that you have an incredibly problematic character as your hero. It is tragic and I did not like it. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I secretly love 1970s hard-boiled detective films. The other thing I like? Remakes/sequels to those 1970s films that make me regret liking the original film! Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – A few months ago I went to Brighton Pride with a friend of my wife’s and it was very fun. People naturally know I love bad movies (because I tell them this constantly), and so this friend, who also likes bad movies, had a huge recommendation: Shaft (2019). He described it as Boomer Humor distilled. Which obviously made me excited. Also there was a ludicrous The Guardian review about precisely that. What was I expecting? I mean … that? Homophobia, out-of-touch, unpleasant humor that made me sad. That’s just about it.

The Good – I think if this was just Ride Along 3 and they didn’t feel the need to explain how a stereotype from the 70s could still exist in the modern world then the film would just be “meh”. The film looks good, and it wasn’t as unpleasant as I expected. That is actually the big shock. I fully expected to feel the same was as with Death Wish, and I didn’t. The film is silly, and they make it abundantly clear that Shaft is an asshole who pushes away everyone around him and can barely have a relationship with his adult son. So that’s a positive.

The Bad – This movie is terrible before Shaft plays a big part in it. The acting is awful. The storyline is tired. And the entire thing might as well be Ride Along 3, or CHIPS 2, or whatever. There is very little besides the presence of Samuel L. Jackson to even suggest it is a Shaft film. And then you can list off the fact that the film is indeed pretty stupid about generational conflict in general. It isn’t super unpleasant because Shaft Jr. might as well be saying “Ok, Boomer” whenever Shaft says yet another dumb thing, but it is still distressing that maybe people think such jokes could be construed as funny.

The BMT – I think this makes me ever more confident that watching movie series is a rather fun thing to do. Time consuming, but still fun. Otherwise, I guess I’ll throw this in with CHIPS as a kind of weird update to something from pre-90s that doesn’t really seem all that necessary. Did it meet my expectations? Weirdly I think The Guardian slightly overblew how terrible Shaft seems in the film. Sure it is immature how little he thinks of Millennials, but his Millennial son gives as good as he gets and it seems more like they are trying to straddle two different audiences (older audiences who liked the 70s Shaft, and younger audiences they are hoping to draw into the action/comedy bit).

Roast-radamus – You can make a decent argument for Setting as a Character (Where?) obviously for NYC. I also think the Apple advertisements in the film is just enough to sneak in consideration for Product Placement (What?). I wish there was a better MacGuffin or a hilarious Planchet to deal with. It’ll maybe get consideration for Live, but I bet there are five better 2019 films as well.

StreetCreditReport.com – Now that we are so close to December there has to be a few lists of bad movies to populate. The main credit I think comes from the eviscerating reviews that came out at the time. That Guardian piece went semi-viral, people are my workplace specifically mentioned it to me. Other than that it gets a shout out in some YouTube videos and the Looper piece which has mentioned most of the films we’ve been watching so far for the 2019 cycle.

You Just Got Schooled – There are a lot of Shaft to deal with. There are three original films, a film from 2000, and also a television show (which in reality was a series of television movies that ran in the 70s). For this specific film I decided to watch the original, the 2000 sequel, and save the other Shaft-canon for another time. I very much enjoyed the original, which indeed had the feel of The French Connection, and Roundtree is great. But I also agree with Ebert, the weakest part of the film is that at times Shaft seems to go out of his way to bait the white cops around him for no real reason. Apparently the other original films ends up shedding this specific characteristic of Roundtree’s character. The 2000 sequel is also pretty good. At times it is pretty silly and very 90s, with a particularly poor performance by Lee Tergesen (of Oz fame), but Samuel L Jackson is pitch perfect in the role, and Christian Bale ends up as an amusingly smarmy racist real estate heir. I liked both of those movies and no doubt will like the other films once I get around to them. B+ as far of BMT homework goes I think.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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