They have this thing in the movies called the Ratchet Pull, and you’ve seen it dozens upon dozens of times. Basically, cables and harnesses and wires and winches, etc., are rigged in a way that makes it appear as if a character is flying through the air in an action sequence—whether they’re a superhero soaring to the heavens, an action star leaping off a motorcycle, or a villain who gets punched or kicked so hard they’re launched into a wall or through a window. That kind of thing.
In the unremarkable and disposable Netflix vampire action film “Day Shift,” Jamie Foxx and friends (and stunt doubles) engage in one Ratchet Pull stunt after another, in fight scene after fight scene. Some of these stunts are so violent and comedically over the top, you can practically see the wires; at one point, Foxx’s Bud Jablonski actually exclaims, “This m----------- threw me UP the stairs?”
Yes, because stunts.
Netflix presents a film directed by JJ Perry and written by Tyler Tice and Shay Hatten. Rated R (for strong violence and gore, and language). Running time: 111 minutes. Available Friday on Netflix.
“Day Shift” also includes a plethora of gruesome stabbings, stompings, shootings and be-headings, done in a kind of “From Dusk Till Dawn” style. The action is admittedly well-choreographed, as first-time feature director J.J. Perry has a long and impressive resume as a stunt coordinator and certainly knows the territory. Problem is, we’re saddled with a half-baked script that plays like a high-concept elevator pitch: Buddy Cop Movie, But With Vampires. Ho ho hum.
“Day Shift” wastes no time in delivering the Big Reveal that Foxx’s Bud Jablonski isn’t really a downtrodden, middle-aged pool man working in Los Angeles; he’s actually a veteran vampire hunter. Two minutes into the film, Bud has entered a house where he encounters a seemingly benign and helpless old lady, who is in fact a vampire, and let’s just say it takes some doing for Bud to finally put this creature out of its misery.
Now let’s cut to the obligatory scenes in which we learn Bud is estranged from (but of course still in love with) the lovely and amazing Jocelyn (Meagan Good), who just couldn’t take Bud’s absentee father tendencies regarding their precocious daughter Paige (Zion Broadnax). Even now, when Bud has Paige for a few hours, he lets her eat the wrong kinds of foods, and of course he’s late in bringing her back home. Oh that Bud!
Jocelyn informs Bud that if he doesn’t come up with $5,000 to pay for Paige’s private school, and another $5,000 to cover the cost of the braces she needs, she’s going to take Paige and move to Florida, where Jocelyn’s mother lives. Bud says just give me a week and I’ll come up with the cash. (It should be noted, Jocelyn is absolutely clueless about Bud being a vampire hunter. She thinks he’s just a hapless pool man, and doesn’t question how he’s going to come up with 10 grand in a week.)
Bud has been working as a freelance vampire hunter because he was kicked out of the “union” for numerous violations, but he needs some fast cash and some great leads (vampire teeth are worth big bucks), so he enlists the help of his old pal Big John Elliott (Snoop Dogg) to get him back with the vampire-fighting International Operations Bureau. They allow Bud back in on a trial basis, with one caveat: He has to bring along a partner, the nerdy bureaucrat and vampire expert Seth (Dave Franco), who will make sure Bud plays it by the book as he hunts down the bloodsucking population in the San Fernando Valley. Now we’ve got the typical buddy cop stuff, with Bud telling the geeky Seth to just stay out of his way, and Seth reacting to violent encounters by peeing his pants (not once, but twice) and throwing up, and isn’t that always hilarious.
Making matters more complicated for Bud is the emergence of the scowling villain Audrey (Karla Souza), an ambitiously ruthless vampire (with a day job as a Realtor) who has developed a type of sunscreen that will allow vamps to go out in the daylight. “We already own the night, but my product will allow us to seize the day!” proclaims Audrey. Oooh, you should contact Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos or the gang at “Shark Tank”; they might want to get behind such a revolutionary new product.
We learn that vampires once ruled the Valley as gods who were worshiped by mere mortals, and Audrey has grand plans to return the vamps to their rightful place. But first she’s gotta take down Bud Jablonski because it’s personal, as that old lady Bud killed in the opening act was actually Audrey’s daughter. Now, Audrey will take Bud’s daughter as her revenge—or will Bud win the day and make enough money to make sure Paige can go back to school with braces on her teeth?
You’re not going to Ratchet Pull the ending out of me!