John Singleton's 2000 remake resurrects the popular black detective from the early '70s and adds a layer of complexity rarely seen in the original series. The story, which pits NYPD detective John Shaft (Samuel L. Jackson), the nephew of the original private dick, against a rich, white killer played by Christian Bale, is basically a pretext for a series of showdowns between Shaft, the rich kid, and anyone else who gets in the detective's way. This may sound simple, and in some sense the script does run along familiar lines, but writer Richard Price has created a richly varied world of characters in which to place the formidable detective, giving them dialogue that is often stinging, and at times memorable. Jackson, an intense, commanding presence, is superb, as is the rest of the cast, from the spooky Bale to N.Y.C. stage veterans Philip Bosco and Josef Sommer, and of course, the man who started it all, Richard Roundtree.
by Michael Costello review