MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2 1/2

Content: -4

Updating the 1971 hit, New York Detective John Shaft (Samuel L. Jackson) is hot on the trail of murderer Walter Wade (Christian Bale). The son of a prominent real estate mogul, Wade makes his way out of the country after posting bail. But after two long years abroad, Wade returns only to find Shaft waiting to arrest him. When Wades rich and powerful friends again get him out on bail, his only thought is to finally finish off the one witness to his crime, waitress Diane Palmieri (Toni Colette). Tracking her down is another story, since she has disappeared. Shaft takes it upon himself to find Diane before Wade does, not only to keep her safe but also to see that she testifies against Wade. Jackson is both marvelous and occasionally hilarious as the updated Shaft, easily giving off the cool and slick aura required for the part. An added bonus is Richard Roundtree, who originally played the title character, as Uncle John. The plot suffers occasional lapses, but Jackson and other colorful characters, along with the new re-mixed Isaac Hayes theme music, should make SHAFT a hit with audiences.

Both the police department and the justice system in this film are portrayed as generally corrupt institutions, influenced by racism and money. Although inferred but never explicitly shown, Wade and his family connections buy his way out of jail, not once but twice. Also, several police officers make derogatory ethnic comments toward Shaft or about black people. Later in the film, however, one of the officers redeems himself for comments made earlier. But the movie creates a strong negative image with graphic violence and excessive, vulgar language. F-words litter the dialogue at more than one per minute, not to mention numerous other obscenities, crude language and Gods name taken in vain. Some violent acts are particularly disturbing as the film pushes the envelope in a couple of instances, showing people being stabbed with an ice pick. Coupled with numerous bloody shootings and deaths that occur throughout, those scenes are especially difficult to watch. Graphic violence and gutter vocabulary in particular drop SHAFT way below acceptable levels.

Preview Reviewer: John Adair
Paramount Pictures, 5555 Melrose Ave., LA, CA 90038

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (33) times - Mild (8), moderate (25)

Obscene Language: Many (139) times - F-word 107, s-word 27, other 5

Profanity: Many (10) times - Regular 8 (GD 7, JC 1); Exclamatory 2 (Oh Jesus)

Violence: Many times Moderate and severe (sometimes graphic, bloody and dying man, people punched, kicked, and beaten, people shot - once graphic, people stabbed, man hit by car, man hit with pole)

Sex: Once (with nudity and sound, brief partially obscured images)

Nudity: Once (brief female breast and rear during sex); Near Nudity - Few times (women in underwear, cleavage emphasized)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Once (reference to sex)

Drugs: Several times (cigarettes, cigars, alcohol)

Other: Man shown on commode; much of the legal establishment and police department pictured as racist or involved in illegal activity; man desires justice; ethnic slurs used

Running Time: 98 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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