Shaft (2000)

Review

Shaft

Who’s the bad mutha -shut yo mouth!

That’s right. Just talkin’ ’bout Shaft. The remake. Er, the sequel that is — in what might very well be the first and only time a sequel has been given the same title as the original. And believe me, that’s just where the stupidity of Shaft begins.

Samuel L. Jackson is obvious casting for the role of John Shaft, the nephew of that other John Shaft (Richard Roundtree), the man who popularized New York’s baddest cop in three films during the early 1970s. While John Shaft is certainly a piece of pop culture, it’s also important to remember that the Shaft films were little more than classic examples of blaxploitation. And the Shaft of today does embarrassingly little to change his image.

It’s a pity, because the update could have been a lot of fun — a modern-day John Shaft as tragic hero in a corrupt and oppressive NYPD. Alas, no, the movie degenerates after 10 minutes of foot-tapping to Isaac Hayes’ classic ‘Theme from Shaft,‘ with the audience left merely to wonder: How long it will be until Roundtree makes his obligatory cameo? (Answer: about 30 minutes.)

he plot, what there is of one, is an utter throwaway. Involving a rich yuppie psycho (American Psycho‘s Christian Bale, now making a living playing rich yuppie psychos) who bludgeons a black man to death — and the hush scheme to silence the only witness (Toni Collette) -Shaft is so derivative as to be laughable, if only it didn’t take itself so seriously. With Shaft’s ridiculous beard trim, a joke-busting sidekick (fittingly played by Busta Rhymes, the only real treat in the film), and a whole army of bad guys, none of whom can shoot worth a damn (though Shaft never misses), Shaft is a parody of itself but doesn’t even realize it. Ultimately, the story serves simply to usher Shaft from fight to gun battle to car chase, over and over and over again. If it wasn’t called Shaft, no one would see this film.

I tell you what. Let Spike Lee direct Shaft instead of blood-happy John Singleton. Hell, let Spike Lee direct and star! Now that’d be a movie. But what am I saying? Shut yo mouth!

Just shootin’ wit’ Shaft.