The banter between cool-cat father and nerdy, uptight son is somewhat funny, but lazy writing and wrongheaded stereotyping quickly send this sequel down the shaft. The fifth film in the Shaft series -- and the third to use the title Shaft (why couldn't the filmmakers have chosen a new one?) -- starts off with an interesting-enough idea: that John Shaft's son would turn out to be a sensitive, computer-literate softie, rather than a superbad, street-smart tough guy. But the filmmakers eventually turn that idea into a dumb comedy, with all the usual uptight vs. laid-back clashes. Only Jackson's effortlessly charismatic line readings make some of these encounters vaguely amusing.
Ultimately, the filmmakers seem to care more about their creaky, tired, unfailingly predictable plot mechanics -- from the early murder to the inevitable betrayal and kidnapping scenes (not to mention sluggish, sloppy action scenes) -- than their characters. The Shafts become thin, cartoonish versions of what began as a gritty outsider antihero (in the original 1971 Shaft). Perhaps most galling is the movie's assertion that men ought to be "real men" -- i.e., tough and willing to fight/shoot guns, treat women as objects, and never apologize. What finally happens in Shaft (2019) is that the characters never really seem affected at all by violence, death, or even love; thus, they never connect, and they never come alive.