When spoiled college kid Walter Wade (Christian Bale) kills a young black student, John Shaft (Jackson) makes the arrest. Walter skips bail and flees the country, and after two years of waiting, Shaft hauls him back into custody as Walter secretly returns to the States. But when Walter’s wealthy father posts bail once again, Walter is back out on the streets and looking to put Shaft in a body bag. So are two of Shaft’s corrupt colleagues (Dan Hedaya and Ruben Santiago-Hudson) as well as a Dominican drug lord (Jeffrey Wright) who wants revenge on Shaft for humiliating him in the neighborhood he rules. For backup, Shaft has only his two closest pals: Carmen (Vanessa Williams), a colleague on the police force; and his streetwise confidant, Rasaan (Busta Rhymes). Meanwhile, Shaft has to track down the one murder witness (Toni Collette) who can put all of his enemies away for good even as the toughest killers in the city close in on him.
I know, we’re talking ’bout Shaft, but I didn’t dig it. Jackson is a dynamic presence on screen, but the film is about little more than street justice, with lots of attitude. It’s difficult sitting through a film whose screenplay is peppered with 107 uses of one obscenity alone, no mater how much you like its star.