Movie Review By Monica Sullivan
Shaft was a big deal to kids of the 1970's. Played, as James Bond had been by young Sean Connery, by the virtually unknown actor Richard Roundtree, Shaft became an overnight icon for fearless strength & heroic determination. Two big screen sequels and a small screen series were assured & Isaac Hayes' Oscar-winning theme became instantly recognizable to any true "Shaft" fan from the very first beat. The original Shaft, now 63, is back, & so is his nephew, also named John Shaft & just twelve years younger than his Uncle John. Samuel L. Jackson is this year's Shaft, who'll quit the police force before he'll let a ruthless killer get off scott free. The ruthless killer is Walter Wade, played by Christian Bale with all the nastiness left over from his role as Patrick Bateman in "American Psycho." For no reason at all, Walter slaughters a black student outside a bar, arranges to pay off the only witness & flees the country after his rich father bails him out of jail. Two years later, Walter's back & arresting officer Shaft has got him, but so has every tabloid reporter in town. Meanwhile, Toni Collette as Diane Palmieri, intimidated witness, is running away both from John Shaft & Walter Wade's freshly-hired executioners who include Jeffrey Wright as Peoples Hernandez.
Shaft has help from his best friends Carmen (Vanessa Williams) & Rasaan (Busta Rhymes). All Hernandez has are henchmen who can't hit a target with machine guns & two corrupt & stupid cops played by Dan Hedaya & Ruben Santiago-Hudson. The script is filed under K for: Keep-things-moving-so-no-one-will-notice-all-the-plot-holes, with a sub-heading for W as in: When in doubt, make sure every single line includes the words "Mother F***er" at full volume. To director John Singleton's credit, things do move, & some sort of a record is set for adult language! More troubling is the legacy of the tragic college student & the fate of his grief-stricken mother who watches her son's rich killer escape bail twice with the help of his father's millions. Shaft, Carmen & Rasaan try hard in the year 2000 & they may even return to see the light of day in further updated adventures with Uncle John. Still they're fighting a deck that's stacked beyond imagination, protected by House rules impervious to heroic determination. When Jackson et al are racing through the plot full speed ahead, you may enjoy the ride, but don't expect miracles from this team in the 21st century.
© 2000 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 6/14/00
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