The cast make the most out of a standard remake to result in a fun, but brainless film.
“SHAFT” is a take no crap private detective made famous by Richard Roundtree in the ’71 original that spawned a couple sequels and a television series. In 2000 director John Singleton delivered his rendition and Samuel L. Jackson was a perfect selection for the lead role.
This film follows Shaft (Jackson) when he is still on the police force. One night when a rich white guy beats an African-american man to near death, Shaft looses his cool and breaks his nose. This allows the guy to skip bail and two-years later he finally comes back to the states. A witness who has been in hiding is the key to proving the mans guilt and Shaft stops at nothing to find her.
Samuel L. Jackson has spent years performing in one blockbuster after another giving each film his trademark Jackson persona. Most of the time it works and in this film it was seemingly perfect for the role of the ‘private dick who’s a sex-machine to all the chicks’. He was excellent in his performance and felt every bit the part of the character.
He carries the film on his shoulder as he hunts for justice in the beating of an innocent man. He delivers the trademark lines with his natural gusto despite some of them coming off mildly cheesy. But I feel without his performance, and the others from the very solid cast, this film would have been much less entertaining.
While Jackson was great, the true star of this film was that of Jeffrey Wright as Peoples Hernandez. He created a hilarious crime-boss with an eccentric personality that provided some comical moments. He shined for me in this role and he made the most out of the material with his energetic delivery. Christian Bale was also very effective in the role of the films true villain, he created a character that was very easy to hate and he did it with his usual charm that makes you connect with the character, in the way of wanting to seeing his downfall through to the end.
The story was serviceable and the homage to the source material pulls it to a more entertaining level with a lot of help from the cast. The direction by Singleton was simplistic but did have an inspiration to the original with many similar camera angles used in the 70’s classic. Roundtree himself is a character in this one which I liked more than him having gotten a simple cameo, he also had some good chemistry with Jackson that was enjoyable to watch.
There was nothing amazing about this movie but it was a solid remake. It was far from a cash-grab like we commonly see today and it’s a decent action film to sit through. There were however some tonal skews that felt out of place, there were times when this film tried to take itself overly seriously and it just felt out of place, and with the lighthearted tone, the intended impact never hit.
Overall though, “Shaft” is a good time, it respects the source material and delivers a great soundtrack. This movie will keep you entertained from the cast performances alone and it still holds up after all the years.
Time: 99 min
MPAA Rating: R (For strong violence and language)