When his friend is killed in suspicious circumstances, John "JJ" Shaft (Jessie Usher) must turn to the one man who can help him find the truth, his Dad. John Shaft (Samuel L. Jackson) hasn't seen his son in 25 years, and the kid is not at all like his father. Will they be able to get past their differences and solve this case? Maybe, with a little help from 'Grandpa' - the original John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) - they might have a chance.
Much like what Taika Waititi did with Thor: Ragnarok, the follow up to John Singleton's Shaft (2000) may be a little more light-hearted than previous instalments, but this is still very much a 'Shaft' movie - an opening credits recap/montage leaves no doubt. If you enjoy seeing Samuel L. Jackson being his usual smooth-talking badass, you won't be disappointed. Jackson embodies this role perfectly, the old-school, street-smart private detective who really doesn't care who he pisses off. But this time Shaft has a partner in the form of JJ, a straight-laced FBI analyst who's as politically correct as he is averse to violence. It seems Dad doesn't really fit into the new age/hipster world that JJ lives in, and it's fun to see him mess it up a bit.
Granted, the story is more than a little ridiculous. I'm not sure how many times you can get into a gunfight in New York without incurring the wrath of law enforcement, or at least cause them to show up. Shooting or hitting everything may not be the best way to carry out an investigation either, but it is fun to watch! Which is why the buddy comedy approach really works here, watching father and son clash over investigative methods. Something that culminates hilariously in a discussion regarding how to interrogate a woman, and whether it's misogynistic or not. And for the first time we are introduced to someone that Shaft is actually afraid of, JJ's mother Maya (Regina Hall). It's easy to see why too, Hall is ferocious in this role.
The scenes featuring the FBI however, serve little or no purpose. Titus Welliver is completely underserved as the Special Agent in charge, and the same can be said of Isaach de Bankolé's villain - another generic big bad drug dealer. But the biggest mistake this movie makes is the same one they made last time. Once again, Richard Roundtree doesn't get enough screen time. The trailer would have you believe that he plays a major role, whereas in reality he doesn't show up until the last 25 minutes of the movie. And to add insult to injury, most (if not all) of his best moments are in the trailer. Roundtree is a good actor - he easily steals every scene he's in - and he and Jackson have fantastic chemistry, why wouldn't you put this to good use?
Shaft is a hysterical but ridiculous buddy comedy. Both Jackson and Roundtree do well to adapt their characters to a more comedic setting, whilst also maintaining their status as the badass private detectives. It may be far from a masterpiece, but it's easy - turn your brain off - fun, and I would be very interested in seeing more from the Shaft family. Although, some new titles would certainly make things less confusing.
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