Shaft (2000)
**** BM
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Vanessa L. Williams, Jeffrey Wright, Christian Bale, Busta Rhymes

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Samuel L. Jackson is the coolest mo'fucka around.

There is absolutely no one else that could play this role. Omar Epps - maybe in a few years. Keenen Ivory Wayans has tried in stuff like "A Lowdown Dirty Shame" and what-not, but he couldn't do it. Don Cheadle was reportedly first considered for the role, and he's good, but I can't see him pulling it off the way Jackson can and does. When you absolutely, positively have to be the coolest mofucka in the room, accept no substitutes.

Jackson is John Shaft, the black private dick who's the sex machine to all the chicks (although there's no sex in the film - just some implied off-screen action). He starts out as a cop though, and no one understands him but Vanessa L. Williams, a fellow cop and apparently his woman - in that "just this side of platonic" way. When American Psycho Christian Bale commits a racially-motivated murder of a black man outside a club that only Toni Collette witnesses, and when Bale's rich daddy influences the system, Shaft has to quit the force, hook up with Uncle John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) and take him down on his own. Complicating matters is local drug kingpin Peoples Hernandez (Jeffrey Wright), whom Bale tries to hire to off Collette. But Shaft doesn't cop out when there's danger all about.

My only problem with the film is that there just wasn't enough smack-talking from Jackson in a movie that seemed tailor made for copious amounts of it. He's cooler than cool, though, and the one-liners that are there are pretty good. He's got the exact look and attitude needed for this. I just can't help but think a little more shit-talking was needed... although "it's my duty to please that booty" goes a long way.

Wright is also really good, if occasionally and unapologetically unintelligible with his thick accent. Just the stark change of character here as opposed to his role in "Ride With The Devil" is really impressive. I was waiting for Bale to break into a Huey Lewis monologue, but it never quite happened. He plays snooty psychotic bastard pretty well, though. Busta Rhymes is a lot of fun as well, but a major disappointment is that the hilarious shot from the commercials of Busta jumping into frame and yelling "SHAAAAAFT!" is not in the film... that yell seems to be there, but he's cowering under the dashboard of a car at the time, it seems... not quite the same comic effect there, unfortunately.

Shaft is the man that would risk his neck for his brother man. I can dig it. That Shaft is a bad motherfucker. I'm just talkin' 'bout Shaft.

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