A private eye who's a sex machine to all the chicks, as the song went back in 1971, isn't exactly tailor-made to 2019. The new Shaft plays with that tension but yields mixed results, in an action comedy that's neither consistently funny nor especially exciting, despite Samuel L. Jackson's second stab at the part.
To listen to Jackson doing street talk is akin to reveling in Olivier reciting Shakespeare — in other words, it's one of the great pleasures of the language. Edit the film down to his dialogue and you have a wonderful greatest hits collection.
Tim Story takes a classic movie franchise and drains it of all the action, sex and topicality that made it worth revisiting in the first place. Jackson, Roundtree and Usher have star power to spare but they’re asked to perform embarrassing and ignorant comedy routines, and the action is so unremarkable that the movie can’t even rely on that spectacle to compensate.