a critiQal film review Shaft (2000)

Plot: New York City police detective John Shaft (Jackson) goes to investigate a racially-motivated murder. A waitress at the nightclub points out Wade (Bale), the son of a powerful real estate tycoon. After being freed on bail, Wade skips town for years. Now he's back, and Shaft is looking for justice.

479 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 23s)
  • ...Samuel L. Jackson and Christian Bale help make this one remake worth watching.

When I first heard they were remaking Shaft, I groaned. When director John Singleton stepped up to the plate, I figured it was going to be something deeper than the old caricature we’re used to. But, when Samuel L. Jackson signed on to play the lead role, things started looking up…who else but Samuel L. Jackson could take on the character of Shaft and update him for the 21st century?

So, would this turn out to be dream casting made real, or would Samuel L. Jackson falter and bring about a remake no one wants? Knowing Samuel, I had a feeling it was going to be worth seeing.

For this movie, Samuel L. Jackson is Shaft, and no one could have updated him better. He was the perfect man for the job. Even with his looks, he had the Shaft attitude down pat, and it worked perfectly. Christian Bale (of American Psycho fame) was great as Wade, and had the “who cares, I’m rich” attitude down to a science.

Even Busta Rhymes and Vanessa Williams both turned in decent performances. Luckily, Toni Collette didn’t have to do much except act scared. She usually is not very impressive, and they gave her a role where she didn’t need to impress – good idea. It was also nice to see Richard Roundtree (the original Shaft) show up as Shaft’s uncle.

The plot blends perfectly with the character of Shaft, and doesn’t take him in directions that people don’t want him to go. The filmmakers stay true to the original character. The movie was non-stop, rushing at top speed the whole way through. It may have been a bit too rushed, but not by much.

Some of the special effects were pretty impressive. One that comes to mind immediately is when Shaft throws his badge down the courtroom to stick in the wall. Very impressive, and an image to stick in your mind. The car chases and gunplay were well done also (One thing you notice after watching the movie: Shaft is an amazing shot! How does he do that? It’s incredible).

Sure, the believability factor is a bit stretched, but isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? I mean, who’s looking for a straight cop film about Shaft? Aren’t you looking for something a little more over the top, with evil bad guys and a hero that isn’t trying to be a hero? You know, a guy with a soft spot for women who is just trying to get through his day?

Want to rent, or buy, a remake worth watching? This is it. Let’s face it – with Samuel L. Jackson at the helm, how bad could it really be, anyway? And with Christian Bale as his nemesis, it sounds like a sure-fire win to me…and it is.

Say it with me now…”what’s his name? Shaft.”

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