The black private dick is back in a fast, dark, fun and gritty urban thriller. “Shaft” is certainly a Summer movie no doubt – TONS of style and only a little substance, but relies more on character than explosions. The story lends itself to any time period and aside from maybe the mobile phones, could be set twenty years ago or twenty years from now.
Jackson totally rocks here, he’s revealing in the part of the Armani clad detective with a cool goatee and a hell of an attitude – no-one suits this role more perfectly than him whilst the original Shaft, Richard Roundtree, does well with his cameos (pushing 50 yet still landing the chicks – Alllright!).
Bale does OK as the stiff brat rich kid, kind of reprising his “American Psycho” role but with less of a cold calculating menace, while Wright is quite cool as the neighbourhood drug boss. Rhymes plays the groan-inducing sidekick, the only real weak character despite a few laughs. The chicks also do well, Williams and Collette proving good though Collette doesn’t get to show off as much range as we know she has.
The plot is rather thin, though this is more a character drama with the interactions between the various roles proving interesting enough that the plot doesn’t particularly matter. There’s also a good twist at the end which comes out of the blue. One of the best aspects is that Director Singleton has avoided ‘updating’ the action with lots of FX and explosions, there’s neither of those in here – rather believable gunfights, on-foot running and some car chases.
Don’t sound like much? Trust me the way these are filmed, not to mention the great sound FX, makes the average handgun seem like a more powerful weapon than a high-powered Uzi. On the downside, especially toward the end, the action just gets a bit repetitive. This has also the best music score of any film this Summer, from the opening credits with the famous theme, to the classic 70’s synthetic sounds its memorable. Having never seen the original “Shaft” its impossible to compare, but this new “Shaft” is good. In a weak Summer, this is one of the highlights.