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edge staff writer


Vampire hunting action-comedy ‘Day Shift’ doesn’t suck

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Sometimes, you just know that you’re going to like a movie. You hear the basic concept, you learn who’s involved, maybe you catch a trailer or two and boom – you’re in.

That’s how I felt when I first learned about “Day Shift,” the new film currently streaming on Netflix. Jamie Foxx and Dave Franco are hunting vampires? And Snoop Dogg is in it? Directed by stunt legend J.J. Perry in his directorial debut, it’s a high-octane genre mashup, bringing together action, horror and comedy to create a fast-paced, funny entertainment experience.

For me, it’s an easy call. You’ve got elaborate action sequences. You’ve got over the top gore. You’ve got banter and jokes. And you’ve got a trailer that prominently features one of my favorite actresses (and human beings) tearing s—t up as a vampire. Of COURSE I liked it. What’s not to like?

This movie is big and broad in the ways that we want movies to be big and broad. This is pedal-to-the-metal entertainment, pure and simple – and it is one hell of a good time.

We meet Bud Jablonski (Jamie Foxx) as he is cleaning a pool in the San Fernando Valley. It isn’t long, however, before we see that he is more than meets the eye. Specifically, we watch him assemble an impressive collection of combat gear and let himself into a bungalow, where he winds up in a full-on battle with a vampire (the aforementioned Danielle Kennedy, who is both awesome in this scene and awesome as a person).

From there, we find out that not only are vampires real, but that they are slowly insinuating themselves into our world. Bud is a vampire hunter, making his living taking down the various varietals of bloodsucker. However, he’s scuffling a bit – he’s been bounced from the union and so must deal with other, less savory types to cash in.

And he needs to cash in. His ex-wife Jocelyn (Meagan Good) has told him that if he can’t come up with money to pay for school tuition for his daughter Paige (Zion Broadnax), she’s going to move away and take Paige with her. With no other choice, Bud reaches out to his good friend – and vampire hunting legend – Big John (Snoop Dogg) to try and get back into the union; it’s the only way he can make the money he needs in the time available.

The boss reluctantly agrees to let Bud back in, but only under the condition that he have a union rep with him at all times. Enter Seth (Dave Franco), a desk jockey enlisted by the union head to document any and all violations of protocol. Bud’s not interested in a partner – particularly one with no talent for or interest in field work – but this is his only shot.

Meanwhile, a powerful vampire/real estate mogul named Audrey San Fernando (Karla Souza) is working on a scheme that will not only flood the valley with vampires, but that could potentially make it so that they could actually operate in the daylight.

So odd couple Bud and Seth go to work. But what initially starts as a slow-moving and adversarial process accelerates as powerful forces assemble, intent on not only enacting this elaborate scheme but also exacting personal revenge on Bud and those closest to him. With just a few people on whom he can rely, Bud must move past the day shift and do battle with the children of the night … in the night.

I enjoyed the hell out of “Day Shift.” It’s a bit chaotic in terms of tone; there are big laughs and elaborate action set pieces and plenty of gore – often all in the same scene – and yet, the filmmakers find ways to make it all mesh. There are a lot of oddly-shaped pieces in this film, but they all manage to fit together.

Conceptually, there’s a lot to work with here. And there’s a fair amount of world-building hinted at, this elaborate unseen world of monsters and monster hunters – all of it taking place right alongside our everyday lives – though I’ll confess that while I don’t need it fully spelled out, I could have used a bit more of it. The foundation is definitely there, but a little more elaboration would have been nice.

Perry’s stunt bona fides are apparent throughout this movie. You like up-close-and-personal hand-to-hand combat? We’ve got that. Wild gun battles? Oh yeah. Extensive car chases? Yep. It’s all here, treated with the sort of attention to detail that you’d expect from a guy with Perry’s history.

It’s also very funny, both physically and in terms of dialogue. Situational humor and sight gags and even a whiff of workplace comedy here and there. Not all of the bits land, but the batting average is sufficiently high to ensure a good time will be had by all (well … most – it does get a bit gruesome in spots, so those who don’t care for that sort of thing should be forewarned).

Jamie Foxx makes an ideal lead for a movie like this; he’s got a varied enough skill set to make the disparate elements of the role work for him. Obviously, he’s got the comedic chops, but he also has the physical talents for the harder action stuff. Dave Franco’s beta energy is a perfect foil for Foxx here, with the two of them working nicely as a buddy comedy duo. Snoop Dogg is, as always, a goddamned delight; Calvin Broadus is a national treasure. Young Zion Broadnax is great, while Meagan Good is her typically excellent self, albeit in a small role. Souza is solid, as are the rest of the ensemble – Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Eric Lange, the ever-outstanding Peter Stormare and, of particular note, Steve Howey and Scott Adkins as a pair of vampire-hunting brothers.

(And as always, a shout-out to the amazing Danielle Kennedy, who absolutely slays.)

If you, like me, have always wanted an action-packed vampire hunter buddy comedy, then friend, do not sleep on “Day Shift.” Unlike its antagonists, this movie doesn’t suck.

[4 out of 5]

Last modified on Monday, 15 August 2022 15:01


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