J.J. Perry’s Day Shift hit Netflix last weekend. I was apprehensive about getting excited for another generic Netflix action film loaded with a cast I usually love, and the trailer hadn’t really changed my mind. But once I finally pressed play, I was thrown into a deeply fun world that I just couldn’t get enough of.
[Warning: Spoilers from J.J. Perry’s Day Shift are below!]
What separates Netflix’s Day Shift from the rest
Don’t get me wrong, Day Shift is still the generic action film you’d expect to see dumped on Netflix. But what separates it from the rest is the amount of flavor and spice mixed throughout. The cast and the action are really the only reasons to watch, but they are GREAT reasons.
The chemistry between the ensemble is terrific, and they never falter in their sincere portrayal of this world and story. This is maybe the one thing that separates Day Shift from most other action B movies: commitment.
Jamie Foxx sits comfortably in the typical try-hard father archetype. But he’s Jamie Foxx, so he brings a level of root-ability to it the character might otherwise not have. I want him to win because I like him, because who doesn’t like Jamie Foxx? Dave Franco does Dave Franco things, settling into his role as a nervous desk jockey with ease.
Everyone is doing their thing, and everything gels perfectly. I never doubt that Snoop Dogg and Peter Stormare belong in this world, even though they’re pretty much just doing the thing they’ve been doing for their entire careers. Special shoutout to Natasha Liu Bordizzo who takes a dreadfully underdeveloped character and turns her into something worth remembering.
A half story for a whole film
The movie is pretty much just a couple of action sequences with a loose story straddling the scenes and tying them all together. The glaring story problems are most apparent following the opening action sequence, with the film spending a lot of time building out the world before getting back into the action. If not for the inclusion of the stellar cast, I probably would have fallen asleep during this segment. The story feels almost improvised, as though they made a bunch of really cool action sequences and tried to fill in the blanks afterward.
I’m going to do my best trying to recap the story. Bud (Jamie Foxx) must collect $10,000 to save his relationship with his daughter and estranged wife (Meagan Good & Zion Broadnax). To do so, he must rejoin the vampire-hunting Union with the vouching of Big John (Snoop Dogg) and deal with the Union tag along Seth (Dave Franco) all the while keeping his eye on that $10,000 goal and the promise he could reconnect with his family. That’s where my memory ends, meaning yes, I literally can’t remember a single thing about the villain of the film: Audrey San Fernando (Karla Souza).
Diagnosing the problem
The story is incredibly underdeveloped, but other parts of the film are unnecessarily fleshed out. There was really no need to start the film with Bud kicked out of the Union. The same journey for the character could’ve been established just by having Bud on his last chance, pushing the limits of the Union’s patience as he continues to break rules. Instead, they spend what felt like 20 minutes re-presenting this world to a character who is already in this world, just for the sake of the audience.
That’s not even mentioning just how non-existent the villain of the story is. The story is really just about Bud and his journey as a father, husband, and friend to the people around him. But the movie constantly pretends that the villain is more well-rounded and important to the progressing story than it really is.
Again, the same journey just could’ve been done in a much more simple manner. Bud is killing a lot more vampires than normal in his hunt for the $10,000, and Audrey doesn’t take kindly to it. Instead, there is a lot of time wasted with the villains but nearly no meaningfully ground covered.
The action of Day Shift
The action in Day Shift is excellent. The versatility of it all does a great job keeping your attention where most other modern action films might feel repetitive. The movie opens with a tone-setter, living up to its pitch as a vampire-killing action adventure.
But the rest of the movie avoids repetition by switching it up with each action scene. It’s not just “fight fight fight” over and over for 2 hours. There’s a car chase in there, there’s a gunfight at one point, and even when they fall back to just “regular old action” they manage to be creative enough that it never gets boring.
The addition of the Nazarian brothers is the perfect example of just how this movie works. In any other generic action flick, the Nazarian brothers (Steve Howey & Scott Adkins) would be the boring competition of the main character. The two parties would fruitlessly try and get one step ahead of each other and that would be all.
Here, the Nazarian brothers are just a couple of dudes who are good at their job and want to do whatever is necessary to get it done and they have a lot of fun doing it. This movie loves to take a traditional piece of these kinds of movies, and give it just enough of a twist to make it feel fresh and fun.
And I think that the fun factor is really the most important thing about Day Shift. The movie is just constant contagious fun. You’re going to get killer action, you’re going to get fun performances, and you’re going to see some vampires getting killed. What more can you really ask? It’s a good way to spend a couple of hours.
My Day Shift film review rating: