Shaft (2019 film)

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Shaft (2019) film poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTim Story
Written by
Based onJohn Shaft
by Ernest Tidyman
Produced by
CinematographyLarry Blanford
Edited byPeter S. Elliot
Music byChristopher Lennertz
Distributed by
Release date
  • June 14, 2019 (2019-06-14) (United States)[2]
Running time
112 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
Budget$30–35 million[4][5]
Box office$21.4 million[3]

Shaft is a 2019 American action comedy film directed by Tim Story and written by Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow. The film stars Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher, Regina Hall, and Richard Roundtree. It is the fifth film in the Shaft series and a direct sequel to the 2000 film with the same title.

The film was released theatrically in the United States on June 14, 2019, by Warner Bros. Pictures, and digitally in global markets on June 28, 2019, by Netflix. It received mixed reviews from critics and underperformed at the box office.


In 1989, NYPD Detective John Shaft, his wife Maya, and their infant son JJ Shaft survive an assassination attempt by drug lord Pierro "Gordito" Carrera. Concerned that Shaft's lifestyle will put them in danger, Maya moves upstate, divorces Shaft, and raises JJ on her own.

Twenty-five years later, Shaft has quit the NYPD to become a private investigator and JJ is a rookie FBI analyst and cybersecurity expert with a degree from MIT. After Karim, his childhood friend and ex-United States Army soldier, is said to have died because of a heroin overdose, JJ concludes he must have been murdered. JJ travels to Harlem to investigate Manuel, the drug dealer who sold the heroin that Karim allegedly bought, but is violently ejected from his property. While being treated for a minor injury in the hospital by doctor Sasha, JJ's other childhood friend and his unrequited crush, he shows her Karim's toxicology report. She notes that the amount of heroin in Karim's system would have killed him long before he could have taken that much by himself, suggesting that he was indeed murdered. With no other recourse, JJ turns to his father for aid. Shaft agrees to help after realizing that JJ's case may lead him to Gordito.

The two begin investigating together, but JJ's progressive white collar outlook on life clashes with Shaft's old-school street ways. After confronting Manuel, the Shafts investigate "Brothers Watching Brothers", the drug rehab clinic Karim helped founded with fellow ex-soldiers Cutworth, Williams and Dominguez. There they learn that Karim stopped going to rehab in favor of attending services at a mosque currently under suspicion by the FBI for terrorism.

Sasha accompanies JJ and Shaft to investigate the mosque, where they are removed from the premises after the imam notices JJ's FBI badge. After Shaft convinces JJ and Sasha to plan a dinner together, the two Shafts investigate a convenience store owned by a woman named Bennie Rodriguez who donated $500,000 to the mosque. Maya calls JJ to inform him that she is coming to New York City to meet a man for dinner; she is overheard and later followed by Shaft. The Shafts, each at separate restaurants, survive assassination attempts orchestrated by Bennie. Maya forces Shaft to kick JJ out of the investigation for his own safety.

JJ turns over the evidence they have gathered to the FBI, who arrest the mosque's imam. However, the media accuses the FBI of islamophobia, and JJ's boss Vietti fires him. JJ returns to Shaft and overhears a conversation about Gordito, leading him to believe that his father was stringing him along the entire time. While Shaft visits and reconciles with Maya, JJ and Sasha track down Bennie to an abandoned warehouse and learn that "Brothers Watching Brothers" is a front for a drug smuggling ring; Karim was killed by Cutworth when he threatened to blow the whistle on their operation. JJ gets discovered by the smugglers; Sasha is kidnapped while JJ is rescued by Shaft.

Shaft introduces JJ to his grandfather, John Shaft Sr, where they acquire more firepower, and Shaft Sr decides to accompany them in an assault on Gordito's penthouse. The Shafts kill the drug smugglers while JJ has an intense fight with Cutworth and kills him, avenging Karim's death. He rescues Sasha before being confronted at gunpoint by Gordito. Gordito attempts to shoot JJ to spite Shaft, but Shaft takes the bullet and shoots Gordito, causing him to crash through a window and fall to his death, before collapsing himself.

In the aftermath, Shaft recovers in hospital with Maya's support. At the insistence of Shaft Sr, JJ and Sasha kiss, and finally begin a relationship. Vietti soon offers JJ a promotion to field agent, but JJ turns it down, and joins his father and grandfather in their PI business. At the end, the three generations of Shafts walk away together.


Isaach de Bankolé portrays Pierro "Gordito" Carrera, a drug lord. Avan Jogia portrays Karim Hassan, J.J.'s male best friend, a recovering addict helping fellow returning soldiers. Joey Mekyten portrays a young Karim. Luna Lauren Vélez portrays Bennie Rodriguez, Gordito's money launderer. In addition, Cutworth's criminal partners at the rehab center are played by Robbie Jones as Sergeant Keith Williams, and Aaron Dominguez as Staff Sergeant Eddie Dominguez (Bennie's cousin), with Leland Jones appearing as Maya's date Ron, while Baby and Sugar, J.J.'s new friends at the club, are played by Chivonne Michelle and Tashiana Washington, respectively. Adrienne C. Moore as Ms. Pepper the cab driver.


On February 18, 2015, it was announced that New Line Cinema had acquired the rights to the Shaft franchise, featuring detective character John Shaft, and would develop a new film within the series, along with producer John Davis of Davis Entertainment.[6] On July 28, 2015, it was reported that Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow would write the script for the new film, which would also be produced by Ira Napoliello,[7] and on January 20, 2017, the studio hired Tim Story to direct.[8] On August 18, 2017, Jessie T. Usher was cast to play the film's new lead, the son of Samuel L. Jackson's John Shaft II from the 2000 film, while Richard Roundtree and Jackson were set to reprise their previous franchise roles.[9]

In October 2017, Netflix signed a deal with New Line Cinema to cover more than half of the film's $30 million budget in exchange for the rights, which allowed Netflix to release the film on its platform outside of the United States two weeks after the theatrical release in the U.S.[10]

Filming began in February 2018,[11] and wrapped up production in the early part of the year. The cast went back to re-shoot a few scenes in Atlanta in August 2018.[12]


Shaft was theatrically released in the United States on June 14, 2019, by Warner Bros.[13] Netflix released it internationally on June 28, 2019.[10]


Box office[edit]

In the United States and Canada, Shaft was released alongside Men in Black: International, as well as the wide expansion of Late Night, and was initially projected to gross $17–20 million from 2,950 theaters in its opening weekend.[5][4] However, after the film made $2.7 million on its first day, including $600,000 from Thursday night previews, projections were lowered to $7 million. The film went on to debut to $8.3 million, finishing sixth at the box office.[14] It grossed $3.6 million in its second weekend, dropping 60% to 11th.[15]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 34% based on 130 reviews, with an average rating of 4.8/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "Decades removed from the original, this multi-generational Shaft struggles to keep its characters interesting -- or anything other than uncomfortably outdated."[16] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 40 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."[17] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an average 4 out of 5 stars and a 51% "definite recommend."[14]

Writing for The A.V. Club, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky gave the film a C, writing, "With its groaner jokes and TV-pilot production values, the new film makes the last attempt at updating the character to contemporary action-hero tastes (in 2000's Shaft, directed by John Singleton) look downright old-school. And its identity crises go a lot deeper than the title it confusingly shares with two earlier films."[18]



  1. ^ The 2000 film presented Jackson's Shaft as the original John Shaft's nephew; this film retcons him into being his son, mentioning that Sr had lied to his son for decades by pretending to be his uncle.


  1. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (12 June 2019). "'Shaft' Review: Less Blaxploitation than Buddy Action Comedy". Variety. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  2. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 29, 2017). "Warner Bros. Moves 'Tag' Up, Sets 2019 Release For 'Shaft' & 'The Goldfinch'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Shaft (2019)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Fuster, Jeremy (June 11, 2019). "Can 'Men in Black: International' Bring in Moviegoers Without Will Smith?". TheWrap. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  5. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony; Tartaglione, Nancy (June 12, 2019). "Can 'Men In Black: International' Travel To $100M+ Worldwide Opening?". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  6. ^ Sneider, Jeff (February 18, 2015). "'Shaft' Reboot in the Works at New Line With 'Predator' Producer (Exclusive)". TheWrap. Retrieved August 19, 2017.
  7. ^ Kit, Borys (July 28, 2015). "'Shaft' Getting Remake from 'Black-ish' Creator (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 19, 2017.
  8. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (January 20, 2017). "Tim Story To Direct New Version Of 'Shaft' For New Line". Deadline. Retrieved August 19, 2017.
  9. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (August 18, 2017). "Jessie T. Usher Tapped As Son Of Shaft; Samuel L. Jackson, Richard Roundtree Reprise". Deadline. Retrieved August 19, 2017.
  10. ^ a b Fleming, Mike Jr. (October 2, 2017). "Netflix Makes 'Shaft' Reboot Deal That Could Change The Model For Urban-Themed Films". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  11. ^ Burwick, Kevin (February 2, 2018). "3 Generations of Shaft Unite as Son of Shaft Begins Shooting". MovieWeb.
  12. ^ "Casting Call! Shaft returns for re-shoots!". WXIA. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  13. ^ McNary, Dave (November 29, 2017). "'Shaft' Sequel and Ansel Elgort's 'Goldfinch' Get 2019 Release Dates". Variety. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
  14. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (June 16, 2019). "'Men In Black: International' Domestic Passport Revoked With $26M Opening, 'Shaft' Drops His Gun With $7M+: Summer Sequelitis, Here We Go Again". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 16, 2019.
  15. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (June 23, 2019). "'Toy Story 4' Eyeing 3rd Best Animated Pic Opening Of All-Time With $123M+, But Did Disney Leave Money On The Table?". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  16. ^ "Shaft (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  17. ^ "Shaft Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  18. ^ Vishnevetsky, Ignatiy (June 12, 2019). "We Can't Dig This Shaft". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 12, 2019.

External links[edit]