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Film / Shaft (2019)

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"Please tell me that you did not get our son involved in your bullshit!"

"If you’re going to pursuit this investigation, I'm going to have to babysit your ass."
John Shaft II to John Shaft III

Shaft is a 2019 action-comedy-crime film directed by Tim Story and written by Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow and the fifth film in the Shaft series, bringing three generations of John Shafts together — the original, the second, and a much younger third.

John Shaft III (Jessie Usher) is an FBI agent and cybersecurity expert with a degree from MIT. After his best friend dies due to suspicious circumstances, he turns to his estranged father - John Shaft II (Samuel L. Jackson) - to uncover the truth. Father and son must navigate the Harlem underworld to solve the crime. Along the way, they team up with the legendary first generation John Shaft (Richard Roundtree).

The film is due to release in North America on June 14, 2019, and it will stream on Netflix in the rest of the world on June 28.

Previews: Trailer 1, Trailer 2.


Shaft contains examples of:

  • 11th-Hour Ranger: The movie focuses on Shaft II and JJ. Shaft Sr. doesn't appear until late in the film when he joins them in the final battle. There’s no mention of him either, except for one indirect reference when JJ calls a Shaft II “the worst father ever”. Shaft II brushes it off by replying “No, that would be ‘my’ father”.
  • Actor Allusion: Bennie compares Shaft II to Morpheus at one point, causing him to snap and shoot her bag. This is a Shout-Out to one incident when Sam Rubin accidentally referred to Samuel L. Jackson as Laurence Fishburne, something that apparently happens to Shaft II a lot.
  • Arch-Enemy: Gordito has become a personal enemy of the Shafts, mainly to Shaft II, as explained in It's Personal below.
  • Bar Brawl: JJ gets involved in one.
  • Big Bad: Gordito.
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  • Badass Family: The Shaft family has produced three generations of badass cops (although the third is still a little... bumbling).
  • Badass Longcoat: All three John Shafts wear longcoats on the poster and and at the end of the film, and the first two Shafts are established badasses(JJ's working on it).
  • Celebrity Paradox: JJ mentions James Bond. Isaac De Bankolé (Gordito) appeared in Casino Royale as Obanno.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Shaft II catches on quickly that JJ has a crush on Sasha.
  • Cool Old Guy: Both Shaft Sr. and Shaft II
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: JJ, while drunk, ends up subduing a man with Capoeira in a Bar Brawl.
  • Damsel in Distress: Sasha is kidnapped by the villains before the climax.
  • Deconstruction: The film takes a few hard looks at Shaft II's character, mostly at how it's adversely affected his relationship with Maya.
  • Destination Defenestration: At the climax of the film, Shaft II shoots Gordito out of a window.
  • Dirty Old Man: Shaft II, complete with an unhealthy obsession with sex.
  • Disney Villain Death: Gordito meets his end this way, after having a knife thrown at his chest and taking multiple gunshots.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: JJ mentions to his father several times that he has a disdain for guns. On occasion, however, he won't hesitate to use one whenever a shootout occurs.
    JJ: I said I didn't like guns. I didn't say I can't shoot.
  • Flanderization: Appropriate for the franchise’s shift from drama to comedy, Shaft II is a lot less hard nosed and more wisecracking.
  • Groin Attack: Shaft II does this to one guy.
  • It's Personal: Shaft II has been obsessed with catching Gordito because he made an attempt on his life when JJ was still a baby. Adding fuel to the fire, is the fact that Maya and Baby JJ were present during the botched assassination. No one was hurt, luckily. This is what forced Shaft II to keep a distance from JJ and Maya.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Shaft II is generally a rude, crude, backwards asshole, but he's not wrong when he throws JJ's unwillingness to hurt someone just because she's a woman and ensuing accusation of misogyny on his part right back in his face.
  • Legacy Character: The film adds a third John Shaft, who walks in his predecessors' footsteps (or at least tries to).
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: JJ is quite the bumbling guy, unlike his father John Shaft II, who feels he has to "babysit his ass".
  • Mythology Gag: JJ tries to do the same thing as his grandfather, that is trying a Dynamic Entry by swinging into a building through a window. Only this time, the glass doesn't break.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: John Shaft I and a Mook both find themselves out of ammo for their submachine guns. John Sr. offers to settle it like gentlemen. The mook tries to turn it into a knife fight, so Sr. pulls out a pistol and turns it back into a gunfight.
  • New Meat: JJ is not quite prepared for some extreme situations his father and grandfather can handle as they're hardened veterans from much different eras.
  • Papa Wolf: Regardless of how much he teases him, Shaft II loves JJ more than anything, and stops at nothing to keep him safe from danger. He even [[spoilers:takes a bullet from Gordito, to save JJ’s life, demonstrating that he’ll sacrifice himself if it will save his son]].
  • Parental Abandonment: John II and Maya separated shortly after JJ's birth, and he'd stayed away since, although he sent him (wildly inappropriate) gifts every year for Christmas, birthdays, and graduation.
  • Playing Gertrude Richard Roundtree is just seven years older than Samuel L. Jackson.
  • Reality Ensues: A drunk JJ wins a fight in a nightclub while drunk by using Capoeira (Brazilian dance fighting). Later on, he tries it against a guy who is formally trained in more practical hand-to-hand combat, and gets his ass handed to him.
  • Recycled Title: The film uses the same title as both the 1971 film and the 2000 film.
  • Retcon: Played with. In the 2000 movie, Jackson was presented as John Shaft's nephew. In this film, Shaft Sr. is revealed as Shaft II’s father, upon Shaft II mentioning that he was only pretending to be his uncle. JJ is shocked to hear this news, but Shaft Sr. immediately gets off the subject.
  • Retired Badass: Both the original John Shaft and John Shaft II are brought out of retirement to help the new John Shaft.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: JJ is the nerdy, peaceful Sensitive Guy to Shaft II's streetwise wise-cracking Manly Man.
  • Sex Is Violence: After the gunfight at the restaurant Shaft II claims that Maya is turned on by all the violence and danger. Immediately after, during the gunfight at JJ's restaurant, the closeups on Sasha's face show that she too is clearly getting turned on by watching JJ shoot people.
  • Spin-Offspring: Jessie Usher plays John Shaft III (a.k.a. JJ), the son of John Shaft II.
  • Storming the Castle: The Shafts attacking Gordito's penthouse to rescue Sasha and take Gordito down.
  • Taking the Bullet: At the end of the final battle, Gordito tries to shoot JJ out of spite against the Shafts, but Shaft II jumps in front of JJ and shoots Gordito several times, sending him falling to his death. He collapses shortly after, but later recovers in a hospital.
  • Tag Line: "More shaft than you can handle".
  • Took a Level in Badass: JJ, eventually. Though he still has some to learn.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: JJ, Sasha, and Karim, who have been close friends since elementary school.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: JJ barfs on two of Shaft’s girlfriends after being unable to keep his liquor down.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: JJ has troubles with hitting women (as in, even in situations where he should defend himself), while he and his father confront a baseball bat-wielding one. She ends up punching him.
    JJ: What is wrong with you?
    John Shaft II: She picked up a bat.
    JJ: You can't beat up a woman.
    John Shaft II: Why not?
    JJ: Because she's a woman! That's like, misogynistic!
    John Shaft II: You're the one being misogynistic. I ain't mentioned her gender.
    JJ: Okay.
    John Shaft II: I'm an equal opportunity ass-whooper.
    [The woman punches JJ in the face, sending him to the ground.]
    John Shaft II: Daaamn!
    JJ: Are there no non-violent people in Harlem?!

♫ You're damn right... ♫

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