"Empty, Immoral and Unsatisfying"
What You Need To Know:
SHAFT is the third movie with this title. The first two focused on the two older generations of John Shaft. The first one starring Richard Roundtree is a classic, but the series seems to just keep getting worse. The dialogue sometimes borders on cheesy, making the comic relief some of the best parts. The driving force ends up being rather empty and unsatisfying. Also, the movie’s immoral and objectionable content is astronomical and includes about 300 or more obscenities and profanities, plus much crude dialogue. This new SHAFT movie is one for media-wise moviegoers to avoid.
SHAFT (2019) takes a look at the third generation of John Shaft Senior. His grandson, who goes by JJ, has lived for 25 years without seeing his father, John Shaft, Junior, since his mother left because of the dangerous life they were living. John Shaft works as a private detective in the underground crime world in Harlem. JJ has been raised by his mother to live a very different life from that of his father. He has attended MIT and now works at the FBI as a data analyst.
One morning JJ is woken up by a phone call from his mom telling him that his best friend, Karim, has been found dead of an apparent overdose. Although Karim used to use drugs, he had been clean for years. So, JJ feels there’s something off about the story that the police have reported. At his work computer, he begins to look into the case, trying to find any information proving his friend was clean and sober. He finds there’s no possible way for a person to administer to themselves the amount of heroin that was in Karim’s system, and he sets out to investigate further. He finds a drug house deep in Harlem, but since he’s completely unfamiliar with this dark world, he quickly realizes he’s in over his head when he gets knocked out by a henchman.
JJ turns to the only person he knows can walk the streets of New York and incite fear into the drug lords and criminals, and that’s his father, John Shaft. The only contact that he’s had with him in the past 25 years were the completely inappropriate Christmas presents his father sent every year. He finds his dad in the middle of a sex romp and drinking whiskey at 10 in the morning. John tries to guilt his son into drinking with him, but JJ walks a straight line. He tells him he needs his help with a case, and reminds him of his absence from his life. John agrees to help him when he hears the whole situation and immediately snaps into father mode when he sees the scar on JJ’s head from being hit.
John immediately goes straight to the crack house, shoots a few henchmen in their legs, and squeezes information out of the ringleader. The information leads them later to a mosque to question the girl Karim was dating, but they’re bombarded by suspicious people telling them to leave when they find out that JJ is FBI. JJ is able to hack into the bank accounts of the mosque and finds a strangely large donation from a local supermarket. When they approach the supermarket owner, they’re met with force and have to figure out a way to get their answers. JJ plants a microscopic camera on the desk, and they are able to watch the activity from his phone.
Later that night, while John and JJ are at separate restaurants, they’re both attacked by henchmen but are able to fight their way out. By this time, JJ’s mother has shown up and implores John to not involve JJ any longer in his underground detective work. John tells JJ he thinks it’s time to turn over the evidence to the FBI, but when he does, the media calls the FBI racist and JJ is fired. Now that he’s a free agent, JJ puts all his efforts into finding out what really happened to his friend, and his investigation leads him down a path that goes way deeper than this one death.
SHAFT is the third make of this movie, the first being in 1971 starring Richard Roundtree, and the next starring Samuel L. Jackson as his son. This time around, JJ is the new generation of the Shafts, and it’s time for him to enter the family business. While they would like to portray John Shaft as the coolest detective to walk the streets of New York, the action in this movie is rather unexciting, which is the partial basis of the plot. The storyline ends up being empty, stretching to bring things back and also trying to create a deeper meaning but failing. The dialogue can be rather cheesy at times, with only about half of the jokes hitting the right notes.
This movie follows a very negative worldview with man being the judge and the one to deliver justice without looking to God for guidance. Although JJ is searching for the truth about his friend, he’s doing it in a way that rebels against authority and the law. The number of obscenities and profanities is astronomical, clocking in at about 300 or more. Many of the jokes are crude and inappropriate, often about genitals or some type of sex. SHAFT also has an unnecessary amount of violence and gunfights, as well as drug references throughout. This new SHAFT (2019) movie is one for media-wise moviegoers to avoid.