An action-comedy worth sinking your teeth into
Day Shift opens with working-class family man Bud Jablonski (Jamie Foxx) cleaning out a swimming pool but despite his guise as a pool cleaner, this isn’t actually his real job. We realise this when he stops what he is doing, walks into a house, and confronts the little old lady who lives inside. During their encounter, he blasts her across the living room with his pump-action shotgun, not because she has refused to pay him for cleaning her pool but because she is a vampire and he is a vampire hunter.
After a well-choreographed battle with this granny, in which she manages to be far more sprightly than we could ever expect, we then get to see Bud lay waste to other vampires in the San Fernando Valley. He is doing this so he can earn money for his daughter’s tuition but his unusual career is threatened when his profession’s union head Ralph Seeger accuses him of breaking union rules. With his livelihood on the line, Bud promises to be more responsible but it’s only when fellow vampire slayer Big John (the reliably cool Snoop Dog) intervenes that he is allowed to keep his job.
To make sure he does play by the rules, Ralph assigns accounts clerk and union member Seth (Dave Franco) to be his partner. Bud isn’t happy about this, more so because Seth has no field training and is prone to peeing his pants when in the presence of vampires, but in true buddy movie fashion, this chalk and cheese pairing do learn to get along eventually, even though Seth proves to be quite the liability to Bud’s vampire-busting.
Does Bud manage to keep his job without breaking any more union rules? Does Seth manage to keep his head in the face of danger? Does Snoop Dog manage to make it through the movie without rolling a single joint?
Well, there will be no spoilers here as you will just have to see the movie for yourself. And see it you should, especially if you’re a fan of vampire movies that contain heavy doses of action. Stuntman turned debuting director J.J. Perry delivers many exhilarating fight scenes, as well as one excellent car chase sequence, and these do much to paper over the weaknesses inherent in the movie’s script (more on this in a moment).
Foxx ably showcases his skills as an action star in the making (somebody give him a John Wick-style movie) although he is slightly overshadowed by martial arts experts Scott Adkins (starring as one half of rival vampire hunters, the Nazarian brothers), who gets to kick and punch his way through one particularly entertaining scene when he, Bud, and the rest of their group, are besieged by bloodsuckers. Adkins has rarely been given decent movie roles but in Day Shift, he has finally been given the opportunity to show what he is made of, not only as a fighter but also as an actor.
While Foxx and Adkins manage to impress on the action front, Franco ably gives the funniest performance in the movie. As the bookish and perpetually fearful Seth, he lights up the screen whenever he appears, and the movie would have been far less entertaining without him. You see, while the action is good, it does get a little wearying, so it’s good that Franco is given the room to balance out the movie with his witty one-liners and moments of physical comedy. His banter with Foxx about the highlights of the Twilight movies is particularly funny, even if it is a little hard to believe that either of them would be such big fans of the moribund franchise.
Overall, Day Shift is very entertaining but as suggested, the screenplay is a little flawed. Little effort has been made to explore the background of the vampires and it’s hard to understand why some of them fight on the side of good while others fight on the side of evil. It’s easy to forget the weaknesses in the narrative when the action kicks in but when the end credits start to roll, you might begin to wonder why more wasn’t done to delve into the mythology of LA’s bloodthirsty denizens.
Of course, if you’re only here for the kick-ass fight scenes, this might not bother you at all, as you should be left satisfied by the wild gunplay, one-to-one combat, and acrobatic stunt work. Whether it’s the sight of the cowboy-styled Snoop Dog pummelling vampires with bullets fired from a chain gun or Bud throwing garlic grenades at his foes before disposing of them in a gruesome fashion, there is much here that should entertain you if you’re looking for some Friday night thrills.
If you were left with a bitter aftertaste after sinking your teeth into Morbius, you will be pleased to know that Day Shift is a far better movie. Foxx and Franco are an entertaining double act, the action is well-orchestrated, and there are plenty of laughs to be had along the way. With a meatier and less forgettable story, this would have earned a higher rating but you can still count on this to give you a fun and blood-soaked thrill ride while it lasts.
Verdict - 6.5/10