La Veuve de Saint Pierre (The Window of St Peter)

Starring Samuel L Jackson, Vanessa Williams, Toni Collette. Directed by John Singleton.
Running Time: 98 mins
Rated: MA 15+

In 1972 Isaac Hayes won several international awards for his "Theme from Shaft". The mellow, black, soul sound captured the mood of the USA. The film of the same name was also a hit, giving audiences a character called Lieutenant John Shaft, an African American cop who will do anything to bring street fighters and drug dealers to justice. Richard Roundtree made his name playing the original "Shaft" which spawned "Shaft in Africa", "Shaft's Big Score" and the "Shaft" weekly TV series.

Just when we thought we were in a Shaft-free-zone and 29 years after the original, writer/producer/director John Singleton thought it was time to relive the experience. Nostalgia can be a deadly motivation.

The theme song is back, as is Isaac Hayes's music score. The plot is almost the same except Latino drug barons replace the African Americans. Shaft is suspended from duty again, but the woman goes into hiding rather being kidnapped this time. All the car chases and gun battles are back as well.

Richard Roundtree is back, but not as John Shaft (that character is now played by Samuel L Jackson), but as "Uncle John". We are clearly not meant to take this too seriously! The only major change in this utterly predictable formulae piece is that Shaft's sexist use and abuse of women is alluded to, but mercifully not portrayed. It is good to see that changes in the USA's attitudes about some things have effected their filmmakers since 1971. The violence is back and is as worrying as ever. No matter how many bullets go near John Shaft, he is never hit and, though hundreds of innocent people are put in danger due to his illegal policing methods, Shaft saves them all.

The plot is incoherent, the set ups are too choreographed, the morality is objectionable, the Latino accents are almost indecipherable and it lasts 98 minutes.

Richard Leonard SJ

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