Saturday, July 11, 2020
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Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Vanessa Williams, Toni Collette
Director: John Singleton
Rated: MA

TWO films on national release explore violence in dramatically different ways.

In 1972 Isaac Hayes won several international awards for his Theme from Shaft. The mellow, black, soul sound captured the mood of the US. Shaft the film was also a hit, giving audiences a character called Lieutenant John Shaft, an African-American cop who will do anything to bring street fighters and drug dealers to justice. Richard Roundtree made his name playing the original “Shaft” which spawned Shaft in Africa, Shaft’s Big Score and the Shaft TV series.

Just when we thought we were in a Shaft-free zone and 29 years after the original, writer/producer/director John Singleton thought it was time to relive the experience. Nostalgia can be a deadly motivation.

Richard Roundtree is back, but not as John Shaft (that character is now played by Samuel L. Jackson), but as “Uncle John”. We are clearly not meant to take this too seriously!

The violence is back and is as worrying as ever. No matter how many bullets go near John Shaft, he is never hit and, though hundreds of innocent people are put in danger due to his illegal policing methods, Shaft saves them all.

The plot is incoherent, the set ups are too choreographed, the morality is objectionable, the Latino accents are almost indecipherable and it lasts 98 minutes.

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