“Shaft” (Warner Bros.)

Samuel L. Jackson stars in a scene from the movie "Shaft." The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. (CNS/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

By Catholic News Service

Viewers’ reaction to this fifth movie in a series dating back to 1971 and ultimately derived from the novel by Ernest Tidyman will largely depend on how seriously they take its title character’s tainted personal and professional morality. Undeniably violent and vulgar, director Tim Story’s film also winks at do-it-yourself justice and promiscuity.

The odd-couple plot finds the estranged son (Jessie T. Usher) of Harlem’s most famous and freewheeling private detective (Samuel L. Jackson) turning to his dad for help after his best friend (Avan Jogia), a reformed drug addict, is found dead of an overdose amid suspicious circumstances. Shaft senior proceeds to teach straight-laced junior some thoroughly wrongheaded life lessons, including the need to take a debased approach to his romance with a pal from childhood (Alexandra Shipp). While that relationship remains innocent, sonny is ultimately impressed by the nonchalance with which daddy cuts a swath of mayhem through the neighborhood on the way to solving his case.

Benignly viewed vigilantism, pervasive violence, including gunplay and torture, upper nudity, a frivolous treatment of human sexuality, an implied aberrant act, much sexual humor, several profanities and numerous milder oaths, relentless rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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