The original Shaft was iconic, cool, important and a significant phase in the development of modern cinema. This version of Shaft is not. The only thing it manages to retain is the coolness, whilst swapping all that 'importance' for being a bit of a quality laugh and a thoroughly entertaining slice of good cop versus the world hokum.
This time round the block, it is today's coolest guy alive(TM) Samuel L Jackson who is portraying the private dick who's a sex machine with all the chicks, the man who'll risk his life for his brother man (Isaac Hayes' words, not mine!) As the original Shaft's nephew, Jackson gives in his NYPD badge when the city's justice system releases a racist killer (Bale, glad to see he's not getting typecast…) on bail for the second time. Following the action of his famous Uncle decades ago, Shaft begins to stalk them mean streets of Noo Yoik, dispensing justice as he sees fit via his smart use of street language and his whopping great gun…
Jackson is of course excellent, the star of the show and rightly so, all shaved head and brutal facial hair, essentially an inverse original Shaft. However, the Shaft attitude is there in spades as he proceeds in beating people, mocking those uptight white cops and generally having a bit of a laugh at their expense. Naturally there are numerous snappy lines thrown his way also as the fun proceeds along its merry way. And then there's always that classic theme song that will reverberate around your head for days.
Granted there's stuff missing from the film, the plot is slight, the direction's pretty shoddy, and overall the audience might long for a few well aimed spots of tongue in cheekery. Nevertheless, there is much to enjoy in this, fights, solid action set pieces, a fine turn from Collette and the never less than absorbing Jackson clearly loving his opportunity to do this role.
So all together nowWACKA-WACKA-WACKA-WACKA….DER-DER-DER-DER-DER!!!!!
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