Shaft Review: A Master Class in Toxic Masculinity

KYLE KAPLAN / WARNER BROS.

How terrible is the latest incarnation of Shaft? It’s terrible on a multitude of levels—it’s poorly made, the story is dumb, and the acting is mediocre—but so are a lot of movies, right? However, this one distinguishes itself by also being an unfunny, mean-spirited embarrassment to everyone involved.

The plotline (for what it’s worth, which isn’t much): Jessie T. Usher plays Little Shaft, an FBI analyst who gets help from dad, Big Shaft (Samuel L. Jackson), with tracking down his best friend’s murderer. Little Shaft is constantly derided by Big Shaft for being “a pussy,” which is to say, not being an ultra-violent, sexist shithead. But don’t worry! By film’s end, Little Shaft makes Big Shaft proud. Oh, and Grandfather Shaft (Richard Roundtree) also makes an appearance to shovel piles of dirt on any remaining fond memories of his 1971 blaxploitation classic.


This sorry excuse for a buddy comedy relies heavily—and I mean HEAVILY—on homophobia, racism, and misogyny for its humor, and then, weirdly enough, gets defensive about it.


I already had to sit through this irredeemable garbage pile, so I’d rather not waste much more of my time other than to say this sorry excuse for a buddy comedy relies heavily—and I mean HEAVILY—on homophobia, racism, and misogyny for its humor, and then, weirdly enough, gets defensive about it. It’s a master class in toxic masculinity, and it oozes the worst aspects of Clint Eastwood’s violent, grumpy ol’ man flicks designed for Trump-era idiots who have no interest in educating themselves. In short: This Shaft is a film that delights in the oppression of others… so yeah, it’s all pretty galling.

That said, Jessie T. Usher is a charismatic actor who probably has a bright future ahead of him—if he can brainwash everyone into forgetting his role in this despicable turd of a film.

by Wm. Steven Humphrey

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