It’s quite remarkable that John Singleton, who served as Director, Writer, and Producer of Shaft (2000), decided to make this film after three decades without any notable public demand for it. The expectations for the movie were ambiguous, as the plot’s motifs had become trite and overused. The idea of a brave, unyielding police officer who valiantly combats corruption and wrongdoing on the streets, sometimes at the cost of ignoring the law, has been explored countless times before. Despite this, Samuel L. Jackson and the cast and crew behind Shaft miraculously managed to pull it off.
How to Download Shaft (2000 film)
You can download the film from a digital store. You can also stream it. Click on the Download button at the end of this review and make your choice. If you like Samuel L. Jackson, check him also out in Pulp Fiction, Unbreakable, or Snakes on a Plane.
The Movie Review
John Shaft, an officer in charge of a violent situation, physically assaults a wealthy white teenager who had fatally beaten down a black kid. Dismissed from his post, Shaft grows resentful after Walter Wade Jr. manages to escape the country while out on bail.
Wade returns several years later to face prosecution, confident that the only witness to the crime cannot be found. In resigning from the force, Shaft takes it upon himself to locate the witness and causes Wade to approach drug dealer Peoples in a bid to locate the one and only witness and eliminate her before Shaft finds her and brings him to justice with her help.
Considering the vast time gap between the original Shaft released in 1971 and the 2000 film, it may be inaccurate to refer to it as a direct sequel. It seems to be more of a resurgence of interest, a nostalgic journey back in time. Despite this, the movie has been tastefully updated while still retaining the classic flair. John Singleton is not a filmmaker typically associated with high-production value films, yet he manages to deliver a sharply intelligent film here.
It’s quite mainstream in style, utilizing clichés with ease and relying on the good guy-bad guy stereotypes, albeit with a slight twist of ethnic or racial studies. Thankfully, he tackles the subject quite tastefully and showcases it viscerally while doing so as well.
Singleton makes an earnest effort to pay tribute to the original film in various ways. Samuel L. Jackson portrays the nephew of the earlier Shaft, and in fact, Richard Roundtree has a brief appearance at the start of the movie as Jackson’s experienced guide.
Sadly, the plot is fairly predictable and offers little innovation to the genre, which often hinges on the caliber of the foes that the hero must confront. It’s a very cookie-cutter story, that was already quite overdone even back in the 2000s, so it didn’t bring anything new. Thankfully, it was paced well enough for it to be fun throughout.
A huge saving grace is the caliber of its cast. Samuel L. Jackson delivers an exceptional performance, embodying the persona of a gritty, urban detective with ease. His character is both devilish and angelic, alternating between the two with impressive skill. Christian Bale, meanwhile, delivers an equally powerful performance as the detestable, entitled villain who believes he can buy his way out of any trouble.
However, Jeffrey Wright is a force to be reckoned with as the narcissistic drug kingpin, Peoples. He’s so good that he steals the limelight right underneath from the other two main characters.
Singleton’s direction and camera work is competent in the plentiful action scenes, but unremarkable in the dramatic portions. The film doesn’t offer much in terms of novelty, with plain camera angles and unexciting locations.
The movement of the cameras is quite rough, but the overall tone is still very goofy and funny with Shaft having a background score to everything he does. There are scarce moments of excellence and only a handful of great action set-pieces, while most are just normal. Though I do have to say, the camera work and the action sequences in John Singleton’s Shaft pale in comparison to the bravado of the original Richard Roundtree movies.
The iconic music by Isaac Hayes is a defining feature of the Shaft franchise and is given new life in this film through the skillful work of British composer David Arnold, who seamlessly integrates elements of Hayes’ original score with his own compositions.
The result is a soundtrack that perfectly captures the film’s action-packed energy and adds an extra layer of excitement to the experience. The music, combined with Shaft’s unique personality and the film’s stylish visuals, make for a memorable and enjoyable viewing experience.
It seems that Shaft’s jump into the 2000s is not the greatest makeover out there, it’s less of a facelift and more of a facepalm, but not completely. Shaft (2000) may not be as iconic as the original, but it’s still an enjoyable action flick that benefits from strong performances by Samuel L. Jackson, Christian Bale, and Jeffrey Wright.
The one thing that’s truly Shaft about this movie is the music, which is still as groovy as ever. The action could’ve had some more work put into it, but as it stands, it’s an entertainer that will certainly entertain you.
- Samuel L. Jackson delivers an outstanding performance as Shaft, while Christian Bale and Jeffrey Wright also give strong performances
- The original Isaac Hayes music is used effectively throughout the film, creating a sense of nostalgia for the original Shaft movie
- The action scenes are well-done and provide plenty of excitement
- The dialogue is often weak and lacks the cleverness of the original Shaft
- The story offers little that is new for the genre and relies heavily on clichés
- The direction is adequate but lacks creativity
- Some of the humor falls flat
- The film can be tonally inconsistent, blending serious drama with goofy humor in a jarring way at times