Detective John Shaft of the NYPD finds himself at the scene of a racially motivated murder. The assailant, played by Christian Bale, is the son of a major real estate mogul and is convinced he will walk. Shaft only furthers the assailant’s confidence by breaking his nose after mouthing off about the victim having rhythm as he is seizing. Much to Shaft’s ire, the murderer is able to make bail and flee the country. There is a time-lapse of two years in the movie but Shaft has nonetheless continued his pursuit of the murderer and is waiting for him when he returns to the country. When the murderer makes bail again, Shaft quits the police and goes on his own. But things don’t go to plan for the murderer either and he ends up aligning himself with local gangsters to make sure he stays out of jail.
This movie was a throw back to the 1970’s detective series of the same name. True to its roots, the movie exudes the same attitude and style that made the series a classic. Perhaps it is the movie’s dedication to the original that hurt is box office numbers. If they would have gone with a more modernized approach and used some more hip-hop style music perhaps it would have been more successful. The inclusion of Busta Rhymes as a supporting actor probably didn’t do much to bring in the younger demographic.
There is no denying that Samuel L. Jackson was perfect for this role. I can’t even imagine another actor in this role. Even Denzel Washington doesn’t seem to fit and he is the only name I can come up with. If some of the feel of the story and cinema feels familiar then you have may have seen some other movies by the same director, Richard Donner. His most familiar movies are the Lethal Weapon series and you can see some of the same aesthetics cross over from that.
If you like bad ass detectives then watch this movie. It’s on Netflix and will only take about an hour and a half to get you that bad ass mother@#%$ing feeling. If you love it enough to own it, of course Amazon is more than willing to accommodate and you can even get some of the old school movies and shows while you are there.