The new Shaft movie had already caused something of a stir with its innuendo-laden poster.
— SHAFT (@ShaftMovie) February 5, 2019
But now we have a proper trailer showing just how three generations of the Shaft family get thrown together to kick some serious ass. The youngest is JJ, played by rising star Jessie T. Usher. He’s a cybersecurity expert and FBI agent who finds himself in need of his father’s uncompromising approach when his best friend dies in suspicious circumstances. That father is of course Samuel L. Jackson, who is back playing the “baddest motherf***er on the planet” after a 19-year gap, and who gives JJ a crash course in the mean streets of Harlem. The original Shaft gets involved too, a grizzled Richard Roundtree dispensing back-in-my-day wisdom (despite the fact that, in real life, there’s only a six-year age gap between the two older Shafts).
Personally, I always had a soft spot for Samuel L. Jackson’s first Shaft movie (2000), a gloriously over-the-top romp where everyone’s favourite African-American ass-kicker did whatever he needed in order to nail a supremely smarmy Christian Bale. This new Shaft is very much a comedy, being co-written by Black-ish creator Kenya Barris and helmed by Tim Story, the man who has recently seemed incapable of working without Kevin Hart (he’s made four films and three stand-up specials with him in the last seven years). Oh, and he also directed the last two Fantastic 4 films, which also doesn’t inspire much confidence.
Hopefully the script will be good enough to pull Shaft well clear of the likes of Ride Along and Think Like a Man (not to mention their sequels). Early signs are good; there are a few great lines in the trailer but, despite the presence of Jackson, it feels like this one could go either way.
Shaft will be released in cinemas worldwide on 14 June, with a Netflix release coming two weeks later after the streaming behemoth covered half of the film’s budget.