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Less Blaxploitation than Buddy Action Comedy – Variety



The new "Shaft" is an upgrade, which is also a downgrade. It's not a "blaxploitation" movie, whatever that looks like now (at this point, the concept is meaningless). It's more of an unconventional, entertaining quirky megaplex action comedy. But since the film has the audacity – or maybe it's just the outrageous Huckster – to go out with exactly the same title as the 1971 Gordon Parks classic and the violent, memorable 2000 game, John Singleton, ask yourself about a remake maybe: what exactly is that? A sequel that also represents a reboot, albeit with the same cast?

Actually, it's the ultimate subordination to the street thriller setting: the reduction of "Shaft" to the old thing, a trash-speaking shoot-the-works buddy. cop movie ̵

1; that's just old enough that it can be a new thing now. For a few hours that are barely to be respected, the film enhances the flammability of cookie cutters from crime-fighting partners who are spirited opposites: a veteran and a beginner; an office-naive bureau, and a loner who threw the book away long ago; one border is crazy, the other too healthy for his own good. It's "Bad Boys" meets "Training Day" meets "Freebie and the Bean", overlaid with a processed glow of blaxploitation nostalgia.

It is also a father-son bonding film, as the characters in question happen to be John Shaft (Samuel L. Jackson), a total private thief (in every way) and the Son, whom he left 30 years ago, is JJ Shaft (Jessie T. Usher), who does not share anything with his father except his name.

JJ, raised by his mother (Regina Hall), is a respected millennium graduate of MIT, working as a data analyst at the FBI's New York office. In the morning, a child in his neighborhood asks JJ in his red plaid shirt and his gray knitted tie and says, "Where are you working? The Apple Store? Or a Panera? "This is more or less the summary of the film's bomb-free sitcom snark, and a few moments later, when JJ admits," I'm not a shooter boy, "that's the topic." Shaft "becomes a glorified cartoon riff about dueling masculinity

Not that it's a fair fight, JJ is portrayed in his role as a desk jockey hacker as an accomplished, but overly vicious law enforcement officer who's so responsible for being completely emasculated. "Jessie T. Usher is a fast-acting actor and does not play JJ as a geek stereotype, he's more of a Latter-day Young MC – a guy with Gab, but totally comfortable with his conventional middle-class soul Films is, of course, that he needs a small shaft in his life.

Enter Samuel L. Jackson, whose shaft is so anchored in its streets that it is now a deadly relic t, a fun-loving Dirty Harry from Harlem who lives by his own rules. He drinks cognac before noon, treats the women he runs out with, strippers, and interviews suspects with a shattered jaw as frequently as a main question. When he looks at his very presentable son, he asks, "What kind of business could Don Lemon's donkey need from me?" For the rest of the movie, he insults JJ on being too white and not enough about a man. All this makes "Shaft", in its admittedly formulaic and even trivial way, a film that is just so relevant.

Pop culture often has a dimension of counterculture, and when JJ, with his meticulous sensitivity and courtesy, embodies "enlightened" male attitudes, Shaft is on hand to put those attitudes to justice. A real man, says Shaft, never apologizes; Instead, he owns who he is. This is something a movie can tell an audience without having to apologize. But does "Shaft" support Shafts hustler's caveman standpoint? Yes and no. It is said that JJ needs to be more daring and that Shaft, despite all the raw splendor of his inner-city appetite, must respect the rules. But the movie usually says that JJ has to become a gunman, and when he does, it's "philanthropic," though you might look at him and think, "Where the hell did that come from?" It's supposed to come from JJ hanging around with his cheerful vigilante of a father, but it really comes from the ability of a guts action comedy to turn out to be a dime, no matter how implausible.

"Shaft" was co-written by Kenya Barris (the co-author) of "Girls Trip" and an author-producer on "black-ish") and TV writer Alex Barnow ("The Goldbergs", "Mr. Sunshine "), and there is one of these acts that only interlock situational abstractions. JJ's buddy Karim (Avan Jogia), a war veteran and recovering junkie, is found dead after a massive overdose. JJ spends the movie figuring out what happened to him, an investigation that leads him to drug doses, a mosque that may be a terrorist front, and a veterinary support group founded by Karim.

Thriller clichés by MacGuffin, but the film hardly pretends to be interested in this generic crime story. It's more about milking the name of the Brothers Watching Brothers for a jibe flirting with homophobic paranoia, and giving Jackson the ultimate rude and rude way to explain things like Shaft owns a personal computer. "I won it in a gameshow titled Beat the Shit Out of a Piece of Shit Drug Dealer," says Shaft. "You have to keep that shit !" Samuel L. Jackson, with a goatee in the shape of a twin dagger and a voice that goes high in the mouth, throws a line like this away, as if he had done it for 25 years, years that he naturally has. But he never lost his fever and it remains contagious. He brags in style.

"Shaft," the original from 1971, is not the film that opened the door to the blaxploitation revolution. That was, of course, "Sweet Sweetback's Badasssss Song," the hottest indie blockbuster released just two months before "Shaft." But "Shaft" was the film that brought Blaxploitation into a brash commercial, studio-approved form. The credits sequence is truly legendary: the danger of the title song with its wah-wah guitar triggers and great bass groove and velvet rivet tale lay above these documentary footage of Richard Roundtree (who looked like Marvin in his long brown leather coat) Gaye meets Stagger Lee) walking across Times Square. This all leads to a sequence that mesmerizes in its own way like the opening of "Saturday Night Fever". But once the movie gets stuck in its gumshoe thriller groove, it becomes a glorified episode of Kojak. "Shaft" as a movie is for the most part without danger, which is one reason why both the "Shaft" of 2000 and the new movie do not feel any offense.

But the original movie Richard Roundtree, who fulfilled it with his presence, and the smartest thing the new "Shaft" does is take Roundtree – as John Shaft, Jackson's father – and turn him into a character, the hotter and cooler than anyone else around it. With his snow-white beard, Roundtree looks all of his 76 years, but his mind is sparkling and tougher than leather. It may sound crazy to say that, but in "Shaft" he humanizes the weapon fetishism. He transforms violence into playful defiance and unites the characters in an intergenerational trinity of pulp machismo: the father, the son and the holy mother child. The film is a product, but in the end you want to see this team again.


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