Universal Pictures | June 10, 2022 | 146 Mins. | Action, Sci-Fi, Adventure
DAY SHIFT (2022) l Netflix | August 12, 2022 | 114 Mins.
Jamie Foxx stars as a hard working blue collar dad who just wants to provide a good life for his quick-witted daughter, but his mundane San Fernando Valley pool cleaning job is a front for his real source of income, hunting and killing vampires as part of an international Union of vampire hunters.
REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus
Day Shift has all the elements to be an entertaining summer streaming hit, but unfortunately the screenplay is not able to pull together all the elements nor fully tap into the cast’s talent.
The latest craze in the action genre is having stunt coordinators direct action films, after the success of films like John Wick and Extraction. On one hand, it makes perfect sense as they have the technical skill to create larger than life action sequences and the understanding of how to capture it on camera. It pays off well in Day Shift, as the action sequences are a lot of fun. Director J.J. Perry captures an uncontrollable energy during the action sequences that is exactly what you want from a summer blockbuster, with entertaining car chases, great hand to hand combat, and all the vampire killing you want from a film like this. None more so than the outstanding vampire nest raid in the second act, which is without a doubt the most thrilling action sequence of the entire film.
Though, on the other hand, having stunt coordinators directing comes with the downside that they are not used to handling the story for the entire film, which can create problems with a weak screenplay. Unfortunately, that is ultimately what prevents Day Shift from being the exciting action flick it strives to be. There is a lot of world development in this film, introducing viewers to an underground vampire hunting syndicate in Los Angeles and an ancient lineage of vampires who have been roaming the city for centuries. However, the screenplay rushes through the interesting parts of this world and spends time on the less interesting aspects of the world. Instead of focusing on the history of the vampires, the villain’s main motivation, or how the syndicate operates, the film focuses on the value of vampire fangs and all the rules of the syndicate, which is not very exciting.
In addition, the characters are very one dimensional and are not given enough time to fully develop into characters that the audience can attach to. We are instead presented with stereotypical character types: the father trying to protect his family, the awkward bureaucratic individual fumbling around in action sequences, and a villain out for revenge. These character arcs can work in a film as they are storylines that require little explanation, but the screenplay fails to move the characters beyond their generic arc. There is nothing that makes these characters unique from any other character in cinema with the same arc, nor is there any emotional attachment generated by the writing.
All of the heavy lifting is left to the cast, and they frankly do the best with what they are given. This film could have been a lot worse if it didn’t have a cast of Jamie Foxx, Dave Franco, Megan Good, Karla Souza and Snoop Dogg. Foxx brings that focused intensity he brings to every role, to create the action hero lead that is required of him as Bud. Franco is entertaining as the bumbling office worker from the syndicate out for the first time in the field, pointing out every rule infraction Bud makes and freaking out when attacked by vampires. As a duo, Foxx and Franco are fine, but they do not have that chemistry needed to bring their buddy cop duo character relationship to life. Snoop Dogg is a ton of fun as a senior vampire hunter. He doesn’t have to do much, he just shows up in a scene and is himself, but he has such an indistinguishable personality that it makes a fun character. Good is decent enough as Foxx’s wife, though she has the least amount of material to work with and despite trying to inject emotion into her character’s arc, cannot salvage the writing.
The only true standout is Souza as the villainous vampire Audrey San Fernando out to kill Foxx’s Bud. From the second she appears on screen, Souza revels in her character’s villainous tendencies, creating a deliciously sinister character. When she is on screen, the film feels alive and there are stakes to the story, even if her character’s motivation for revenge is completely fumbled. I might be bias as a fan of Souza after six years of her on ABC’s How To Get Away with Murder, but she absloutely steals the show and truly elevated the simplistic and lacking screenplay to create a memorable character. It’s too bad there was not more of her in the film, as she was just a ton of fun from start to finish.
Scoring Day Shift was not an easy job, as while the film failed to create the fun summer action flick I wanted it to be, it wasn’t truly terrible in any way. The film just failed to utilize the talent of its cast and develop an interesting story that created anything more than an action film you will forget shortly after watching it. Despite a scene stealing turn by Karla Souza as the film’s villain and some entertaining action sequences, Day Shift fails to deliver an engaging story that makes what should have been a fun summer action flick.
RATING: 2.5 out of 5