Humour is quite literally the last thing anyone might associate with Shaft, the popular cult franchise of crime-action films. Based on a tenacious, African-American family of police detectives, the first 4 movies had all sorts of neo-noirish gravitas. But the divergent 5th instalment by Tim Story seems set to deliver all the gritty thrill of the original ’70s Blaxploitation trilogy – as well, of course, as John Singleton’s 2000 effort – alongside a healthy dose of comedy.
Working with a screenplay by the witty Kenya Barris, there’s no doubt Story intends to amuse somewhat with his long-awaited sequel-cum-reboot. The poster – released in February – attests to that, assuring “more shaft than you can handle.” What a pledge, huh? Let’s hope this droll tagline sets an unshakable tone for the entire plot, even if the hilarity has been pared down since the script’s first version. And although the filmmaker’s last project – daft cop comedy Ride Along 2 – was totally panned by critics, a spot of its wise-cracking absurdity wouldn’t go amiss.
Here’s the (strangely wordy) synopsis:
“Shaft is the next chapter in the film franchise featuring the coolest private eye on any New York City block. JJ, aka John Shaft Jr. (Usher), may be a cyber security expert with a degree from MIT, but to uncover the truth behind his best friend’s untimely death, he needs an education only his dad can provide. Absent throughout JJ’s youth, the legendary locked-and-loaded John Shaft (Jackson) agrees to help his progeny navigate Harlem’s heroin-infested underbelly. And while JJ’s own FBI analyst’s badge may clash with his dad’s trademark leather coat, there’s no denying family. Besides, Shaft’s got an agenda of his own, and a score to settle that’s professional and personal.”
Richard Roundtree and Samuel L. Jackson reprise their roles from the 2000 film, respectively, as the original Shaft I and his nephew Shaft II. Jessie Usher also stars as Shaft II’s son. Shaft will be released in the U.S. by Warner Bros. on June 14, and elsewhere on Netflix two weeks later. You can watch the Shaft trailer below.
Steven is a Scottish freelance Film & TV Journalist based in London. He earned a BA in Journalism from Edinburgh Napier University before moving onto ghost-and content-writing. Steven now covers Film & TV for various websites.