With a new week comes a new Netflix released film on their seemingly insurmountable release schedule. Comparable to a baseball analogy, each film that comes out for public consumption after zero marketing or social awareness that its even released is like a lineup of a baseball team. A release is like a batter, stepping up to the plate for their turn to either strike out swinging, get on base with a hit or knock it out of the park. Day Shift, the newest film that features big name after big name to draw in views is not a three-pitch strikeout but a beat it out infield single that just edges out the throw.
Baseball aside, the directorial debut of longtime stuntman J.J. Perry provides enough bang for the buck Netflix offers. Not groundbreaking, but serviceable that after watching will be another film lost in the sea of content the streaming service has to offer. Looking at Perry’s long list of stunt work over the years, an action-centric fare is right up his alley. Just like with another Netflix original Extraction – a stunt coordinator has a better understanding of how to shoot the sequences that take up majority of this film. The camera placement is solid, and the editing is rarely choppy to cause less confusion disorientation on the viewer.
Opening the film is an action sequence that takes place largely in a living room between vampire hunter Bud (Jamie Foxx) who puts on a front as a pool cleaner to gain access to the homes of vampires he’s looking collect a payday on and an elder vampire who later becomes the reason for the centralized conflict and a younger vampire. Standing out the most besides the moves from the mortal Bud is the execution of it all. Each punch, kick, gunshot is timed perfectly with purpose, setting the narrative in motion.
After that, Day Shift becomes a more surface level serviceable blended action comedy that wastes the talent that stars in it. Once Bud extracts the vampires’ fangs looking to sell them for money, his ex-wife Jocelyn (Meagan Good) gives Bud an ultimatum regarding their daughter Paige (Zion Broadnax). Get the money to pay for school tuition or watch the two move to Florida. See – generic.
While the premise remains on the fence, the screenplay written by Tyler Tice and Shay Hatten has a ton of promise laced throughout. An interesting concept involving vampires that walk among us with a secret, unionized organization that hunts the undead and collects bounties. Something that has been done well before with John Wick but with assassins, director of that successful franchise Chad Stahelski serves as a producer here. The bones are the same, however, the meat and potatoes are not.
I see the attempts at world building, feeble as it is, it is genuinely promising, just needing a touch of fine tuning, Day Shift falls flat, relying too heavily on the stylization of being a fresh take in an over saturated genre. Unlike John Wick, Bud doesn’t have that heavy trauma to cheer on in his quest to save his family. Foxx’s performance is solid here, its Jamie Foxx, he can do no wrong, it’s the character’s development that keeps his feet firmly planted in one place throughout the story – never fully moving Bud past his inherent stubbornness.
Due to the restrictions imposed by the union, Bud is assigned to be accompanied, watched like a hawk by the pencil pushing Seth (Dave Franco), who has never once been in the field, killing vampires.
Chemistry wise, Foxx and Franco play off each other well. Their comedic timing hits the ground running as soon as the two have their first interaction. Franco’s performance, however, is typical to what we can expect from the actor, giving the same leveled approach that he’s done in the past with 21 and 22 Jump Street. For the most part, the humor sticks, keeping the train on the tracks until the next humorous exchange is tossed in.
Where the main villain comes into play circles back to the opening sequence. Bud kills a relative of vampire/real estate agent/entrepreneur Audrey San Fernando (Karla Souza) who seeks revenge against Bud and his family. While a vampire selling sunscreen that will allow them to day walk is clever, the execution is far-fetched, nor does it come to fruition. The scope of what could be is never fully realized, leaving a juicy sub-plot unresolved and forgettable. Much of the attempted sub-plots are left unrealized while the focus is steadily held on Bud, Seth, and the journey to stop Audrey.
Rounding out the remainder of the cast is Calvin Cordozar Broadus, p/k/a Snoop Dogg who plays a unionized hunter Big John aiding Bud to get his membership back in good standing, Steve Howey as another vampire hunter and Peter Stormare as a pawn shop owner specializing in fangs and other goods like Jordan 3’s. For what Day Shift presents on screen, Perry brings the expertise in action sequences that will quickly quench the thirst of the viewer watching. A solid performance from Foxx and decent comedy between him and Dave Franco, Day Shift is the definition of a turn your brain off popcorn flick. Classic hip-hop will sure turn the volume up and will keep the attention as Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg west coast era blazes in style. Easy to ingest but no thought necessary, it’s a fun time to spend a couple hours on a rainy day in this world.
Screenplay By: Tyler Tice & Shay Hatten
Story By: Tyler Tice
Directed By: J. J. Perry
Music By: Tyler Bates
Cinematography: Toby Oliver
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Dave Franco, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Meagan Good, Karla Souza, Steve Howey, Scott Adkins, Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., Peter Stormare, Eric Lange
Release Date: August 12, 2022
Running Time: 1 Hour 54 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 59%