New York City police detective John Shaft (nephew of the original 1970s detective) goes on a personal mission to make sure the son of a real estate tycoon is brought to justice after a racially-motivated murder.
New York Police Detective John Shaft is the lead detective on a sensitive case, a young black man is severely beaten. The man's companions tell Shaft that their friend humiliated the one who was sprouting racial slurs at him. Shaft confronts him and he says he's Walter Wade Jr. , the son of a wealthy man. Shaft finds that he has the id of a woman who's a waitress at the bar where Wade and the guy who was attacked were. When Wade continues to hurl racist comments, Shaft smacks him. Shaft later learns because of his actions Wade was granted bail and fled. Two years later, Wade returns and Shaft arrests him. At his hearing when the judge grants him bail, that's when Shaft throws his badge at the judge. He then sets out to get Wade by finding the waitress. Wade in the meantime asks a drug dealer named Peoples Hernandez to find the waitress and make sure she doesn't talk.Written by
Thirty years is a long time to wait to make a sequel, especially when no one is clamoring for one. Director/Writer/Producer John Singleton decided it was about time. The result is a solid, but undistinguished crime drama. The elements of this story have been told so many times that they are becoming hackneyed. A tough, no-nonsense cop fights evil and corruption to bring justice to the streets while often disregarding the law. A spoiled rich kid is trying to get away with murder by hiring a drug dealer to snuff an eyewitness with the help of a couple of dirty cops. This is not vanguard material.
Singleton's direction is good in the action sequences (of which there are plenty) and adequate in the dramatic scenes. In this film, he doesn't bring much innovation to the screen, with very straightforward shots and mundane locations. In an overly reverent gesture to the original film, he brings back Richard Roundtree (the original Shaft) as the current Shaft's (Samuel L. Jackson) uncle and mentor. There is also a cameo appearance by Gordon Parks, the director of the original, and of course, Isaac Hayes theme song is back.
The film is elevated from mediocrity by the acting. Samuel L. Jackson is an outstanding actor and slips on the character of this tough, streetwise cop like a tailored glove. When he's bad, he's very very bad and when he is good, he's almost saintly. Christian Bale also gives a fine performance as the despicable rich kid who thinks his wealth puts him above the law. Jeffrey Wright is explosive as the egomaniac drug lord. The supporting actors are also excellent.
This is an entertaining film despite its lack of originality. I rated it a 7/10. Action junkies add a point or two. This film is extremely violent with a high body count.
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