Home > Adventure >


Shaft (2000)

June. 15,2000
| Adventure Action Thriller Crime

New York police detective John Shaft arrests Walter Wade Jr. for a racially motivated slaying. But the only eyewitness disappears, and Wade jumps bail for Switzerland. Two years later Wade returns to face trial, confident his money and influence will get him acquitted -- especially since he's paid a drug kingpin to kill the witness.


Watch Trailer


Similar titles



In the world of unnecessary and often awful remakes, 2000's SHAFT shines through as a good example of what a remake should be: an updating of the previous story set successfully in modern times, with actors sufficient enough to equal the performances in the first film, and one with enough twists and turns to make it surprising and interesting. SHAFT does all of this, dispensing with the plot of the original movie to concentrate on an elaborate, labyrinthine tale of crazed, psychotic drug dealers, corrupt cops, and doughnut-chewing allies.The sheer verve and enthusiasm which goes into the speedily-paced story reminds me instantly of LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS and the energy rubs off on the viewer. Sure, the film is violent but the violence is deserved (aside from the opening murder) and the action is handled nicely and with plenty of style, including an excellent car stunt. The plot sits on the line between complex and muddled without going overboard on elaborate set-ups or contrived situations and the 'street level' atmosphere rubs off, creating a realistic movie you can really get into.In the title role, Samuel L. Jackson shines and comes off more than adequately. Although he can never hope to attain the iconic status of original star Richard Roundtree (incidentally making a welcome cameo appearance as 'Uncle Shaft' this time around), he's certainly better than need be for what is essentially a popcorn movie, and the cast that supports him is also great. In particular, kudos to Jeffrey Wright, who fits the role of his slimy drug dealer character so well that actor and character are indistinguishable (witness my surprise to see him out-of-character in a documentary, softly-spoken and 180 degrees from the character he portrays in the movie) and Christian Bale, reprising his American PSYCHO shtick as a cold-blooded bad guy you love to hate and doing very well with it. The female support is also strong, with Vanessa Williams proving her worth as a sassy female cop - a little underused however - and Australia's Toni Collette utterly believable as the harassed female witness. Busta Rhymes also joins LL Cool J as a rapper who is mildly amusing in the movies. Finally, the revamped Isaac Hayes music is back and as hummable as ever, rounding off what is a thoroughly involving slick action picture.


Shaft (2000) ** 1/2 (out of 4) The son (Christian Bale) of a rich real estate businessman kills a black man and skips town but Detective John Shaft (Samuel L. Jackson) enters the game and will stop at nothing to see justice brought to him. This leads to a back and forth battle, which involves gang members and crooked cops.SHAFT works as both a sequel and a remake to the 1971 film. The Shaft that Jackson is playing here is actually the nephew to the one Richard Roundtree played in the original series. Roundtree is also on hand for a few scenes in this film, which is certainly great to see. With that said, John Singleton had a pretty tough battle because he was basically making a blaxploitation movie in an era where you really couldn't get away with the same stuff that you could in the 70s.Back in the 70s it was a time for politically incorrect stuff and that's certainly not the case here. Even the story line of the murderer doesn't feature the "racist whites" that you'd expect to see. For the most part I thought this film was entertaining for what it was but there's no question that there were some flaws. The biggest is how "big" the story got. I really didn't find the crooked cop angle to be all that interesting and even the stuff with the gang members wasn't all that compelling.The film works the best when Jackson and Bale get to go at one another. Both actors are extremely good in their parts and it's a shame that the screenplay didn't keep the focus on them since they are the best things in the picture. Jeffrey Wright is wonderful in his role as a gang banger and Toni Collette is also extremely good. We also get nice supporting performances by Dan Hedaya and Pat Hingle. Busta Rhymes is here playing himself so I'll let you be the judge on that.There are some nice action scenes scattered throughout the picture and there's a lot of great laughs early on but for some reason the screenplay went away from the sly humor as the film went along. SHAFT isn't the perfect remake but it's a mildly entertaining film.

Johan Dondokambey

The story builds it's crime case well, keeping the mystery element existing while revealing new details and small surprises along the way. Yet it kind of throws back at how the focus character seems to be so resourceful and calm at what he's doing. I think the movie should have a more solid backgrounder on how he can do these things. The action side is not that good at all, having too much close up shots and cuts from shot to shot just don't seem to add to the suspense. The acting side also doesn't really offer something. Samuel L. Jackson's acting is surprisingly slightly a bit his own standard here, grinning too much at the wrong times. Christian Bale's upper lip definitely wrecks up his expressions all the entire time. Vanessa Williams can add a color to the story but that's just it.


When it's got these three leads, it's got to be worth checking out, right? Well, yes and no. The first half was really good, with snappy dialog, crisp performances and a potentially decent story. Then, it went downhill, with clichés galore, a ridiculously over the top storyline which turned into a car chase gun fest for no good reason I could think of. Samuel L. Jackson is terrific as John Shaft, and enjoyed the original Shaft making a reappearance as the uncle. As for the Latino bad guy - he was a cartoon character - I felt it was insulting for him to be directed to speak in ridiculous pidgin English in a ludicrously over the top gay Latino way (it was borderline racist, in my view).Still, the film was fun at times, but ultimately a failure.