Shaft, a sequel of sorts to the 2000 film of the same name, exists for one reason and one reason only: for Samuel L. Jackson to hate on millennials, the internet, and the modern world and to prove that Shaft is the man. This is Jackson’s version of The Mule and though it may not necessarily be in-tune with the times, there are still some funny and exciting moments throughout and Jackson is giving it his all.
John Shaft Jr. (Jessie T. Usher), or JJ, is a cyber security agent for the F.B.I. with a degree from MIT. When one of his close friends is found dead, JJ enlists the help of his estranged father, John Shaft (Jackson), to solve the crime. The two navigate New York City together, butting heads on the process of solving cases, fashion, the internet, women, and why Shaft left JJ all those years ago.
For those of you who did not see Clint Eastwood’s The Mule last year, the film featured Clint Eastwood as a 90-year-old drug runner for a Mexican cartel, but the film felt more like an Eastwood venting session, as Eastwood complained constantly about how times aren’t the same and how he isn’t changing. That’s the same vibe I was getting from Jackson here in Shaft. As soon as Shaft hits the screen, you can tell that he hasn’t changed one bit. He had just hooked up with a heavily glittered woman, he starts roasting his son for his skinny jeans and tucked in shirt, questioning his sexuality, and, when JJ takes Shaft to a trap house he discovered, Shaft uses brunt force to get the answers he needs. JJ, appalled by all of this, continuously informs his dad about what he did wrong and why it is wrong, to which Shaft could not care less. Shaft continuously does what Shaft does. He womanizes, uses unethical ways of getting answers, and even has a distain for the internet and modern technology and he even begins to corrupt JJ with these ideas, so much so that by the end of the movie, JJ is rocking the turtleneck and trench coat. Shaft is a movie that isn’t with the times and doesn’t want to be in the times. It’s a movie that likes how the old days did it and will continue to do it that way because it worked. It’s a stubborn way, but that’s the way it is.