Shaft (2000)

shaft poster 2000 movie samuel l jackson
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Good to see Shaft back

Kind of generic action movie

Movie Info

Movie Name: Shaft

Studio:  Scott Rudin Productions

Genre(s): Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): June 16, 2000

MPAA Rating: R

shaft jeffrey wright christian bale

I’ve perfected smarmy…

John Shaft (Samuel L. Jackson) is following in the footsteps of his uncle (Richard Roundtree).  When a privileged member of New York’s elite named Walter Wade Jr. (Christian Bale) kills a man in a race-murder, John Shaft finds the law he works for doesn’t always work for everyone.  Shaft is determined to get Walter who teams with a drug dealer named Peoples Hernandez (Jeffrey Wright) to track down and silence a waitress named Diane Palmieri (Toni Collette) who witnessed the crime…and it is up to Shaft to stop him!

Directed by John Singleton, Shaft is a continuation of the classic blaxploitation 1971 film series.  Following Shaft in Africa in 1973 and a short lived series, the film was met with mixed to positive reviews.

The original Shaft was a fun action movie.  It was goofy and a product of the time.  This Shaft takes away the nostalgia and the blaxploitation and leaves an action revenge movie…which feels completely average and normal.

shaft 2000 richard roundtree samuel l jackson

Wait…who’s the black private dick who’s a sex machine to all the chicks? You or me?

The story takes too long.  It feels like it moves at a snail’s pace with a two year gap before the story really even starts with Walter’s return to America.  It feels like it should have been a jumpstarted film with a breakneck speed, but instead it is pretty much Shaft looking around for Diane the entire movie.  It ends with a rather unnecessary twist that undoes the entire film (and kind of had me wishing that it had happened at the first trial).  There are all the action clichés with gang members, dirty cops, and loyal friends that always stand for Shaft.

There was really no other choice for Shaft other than Samuel L. Jackson.  I just wish Jackson had played him about ten years before (of course he wasn’t he king of cool in 1990).  Richard Roundtree’s return is fun and Jeffrey Wright and Christian Bale eat up their scenes.  I wish both Vanessa Williams and Toni Collette had a little more to do in the picture, and I wish the bad cops played by Dan Hedaya and Ruben Santiago-Hudson had factored into the plot more.  Shaft’s singer Isaac Hayes had an uncredited role as Mr. P.

shaft vanessa williams samuel l jackson

Let’s finally get shooting!

Jon Singleton was pretty revolutionary in his early work and known for being an edgy filmmaker, but I don’t feel that Shaft has much of an identity.  The film feels like a regular action film and looks like a regular action film.  It might have been cool if the film had been stylized to fit in with the previous films or had more of a reflexive nature in general to spice it up.

Shaft isn’t a bad movie, but it also isn’t a very memorable film.  It is a by-the-books action movie that could have been more due to the nice cast and the history of the character.  In a weird way, the film feels more like a remake of a TV show with a lot of characters and a familiarity surrounding them.  Shaft was followed by another film (also titled Shaft) in 2019.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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