By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
“Who's the cat that won't cop out when there's danger all about?
Shaft. Right on." (“Theme From Shaft.” Composed And Performed By Isaac Hayes, 1971).
It’s good that screenwriters Kenya Barris
(TV’s “Black-ish”) and Alex Barnow
(TV’s “The Goldbergs”) didn’t “cop out” and make John Shaft a soft, politically correct character in the new movie “Shaft.”
Directed by Tim Story
(Upcoming “Ride Along 3”), this version is a remake of the 2000 “Shaft” movie that the late, John Singleton
directed which also starred Samuel L. Jackson
in the title role.
Jackson is back as New York’s coolest private dick. He drives a killer 1971 Chevelle SS and can still rock a leather maxi coat. While he may not be a sex machine to all the chicks these days, he’s still very much a lady’s man. That may explain in part why he and his wife Maya (a terrific Regina Hall “Little” and “The Hate U Give”) are no longer together.
However, they do have an amicable relationship mainly so that Shaft can try to mend things with his son, J.J. (Jesse T. Usher, TV’s “Survivor’s Remorse” and “The Boys”) who he never spent enough time with because of his busy lifestyle.
J.J. isn’t a chip off the old block. He’s a skinny jeans wearing, hip-hop loving millennial who graduated with honors from M.I.T. and works for the FBI as a cybersecurity expert. He hates guns and violence rarely uses profanity and is also kind of shy around girls especially one that’s digging on him named Sasha Arias (Alexandra Shipp, “Dark Phoenix” and “A Dog’s Way Home”).
J.J. has never asked his father for anything, but when his best friend Karim Hassan (Avan Jogia, TV’s “Now Apocalypse”) dies under suspicious circumstances, he reaches out to his dad for help.
Shaft had been laying low for a bit but will do anything for his son. And when J.J. tells him that a couple of thugs roughed him up when he was inquiring about his dead friend, well Shaft is ready to bust some heads.
It turns out there’s a lot more to Karim’s death. The former Army vet and “recovered drug addict” may have had terrorists ties. He’s even on the F.B.I.’s watch list. That’s a lot to unwrap, but J.J. is convinced it doesn’t sound like his friend.
As their investigation unfolds, Shaft realizes he needs some extra muscle to get to the bottom of it and it comes from none other than his father, the original “Shaft.” The legendary Richard Roundtree
(TV’s “ Being Mary Jane”). It’s been a long time since Shaft Sr.—still looking fit and handsome--has been in the game and he’s ready to get down to business.
They get answers from the baddies the good-old fashioned way: through beatdowns and bullets.
What really makes this “Shaft” such a kick is seeing Shaft/Samuel L. Jackson’s 1970s blaxploitation style swagger clash with his son. The whole generation gap storyline is played to great comedic effect. Jackson seems to be having a blast with the character and dives in wholeheartedly.
Gordon Parks and Ernest Tidyman would be proud.
Be sure to catch my N2Entertainment.net movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays now at 6:20 p.m. on radio station KFBK 1530 AM and 93.1 FM.
Check Out This Trailer "SHAFT"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The Alliance Of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.