Jamie Foxx and vampires is more than enough reason to add Day Shift, Netflix’s upcoming vampire comedy action film, to your queue. The A-list actor is known for dramatic films like Ray, Just Mercy, and White House Down; however, many of us have been rocking with him since his In Living Color and The Jamie Foxx Show days where his comedic genius took center stage. So, at this point in his career, Day Shift seems like the perfect vehicle for his talents. He’s more than proven his versatility and bankability as an actor while always maintaining his innate wit and never taking himself too seriously. And that’s exactly what we get from Day Shift. It’s a film packed with fun action sequences, some emotional beats, and a story with low-ish stakes that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Foxx gives Bud Jablonski, a man who is down so bad financially that he’s risking his life to pluck vamp teeth for cash, a lot more depth than the average actor would. Bud is charismatic and a skilled hunter. But his penchant for bending the many rules of vampire hunting set by his former organization has led him to freelance rogue work. And, it’s not going well for him. We watch his spiral into sheer desperation as he fears losing his wife Jocelyn (Meagan Good) and daughter Paige (played by a very precocious Zion Broadnax) due to his unreliable nature. Foxx infuses Bud with some well-timed and sharp humor to balance things without losing an ounce of the very real stakes for his character.
Bud finally gets a second (well, actually more like 100th chance) from the vamp hunting union thanks to his friend and vampire hunting legend Big John Elliott (Snoop Dogg). And he’s determined to do whatever it takes to get the big cash score. The problem is, he’s stuck on the less lucrative day shift. Even worse, he has to drag along Seth (Dave Franco) as his partner. Seth is a desk guy who knows the rule book like the back of his hand and cannot fight. At all.
Of course, this sets up a classic dynamic. There’s the rogue action guy with a comrade who is book smart yet woefully incompetent on a physical level. Smart Guy is there to make sure Rogue Man is following the books. Rogue Man wants Smart Guy to stay out of his way. They think they don’t need each other but they really do. Tale as old as time, honestly. Franco and Foxx’s impeccable chemistry is a pure joy to watch as they let the banter, wit, and headbutting take center stage.
There’s a lot of great action scenes to keep viewers fully engaged. But there’s also just enough story and stakes to make it more than just a mindless vamp killing machine. Snoop Dogg shines as Big John Elliott whenever he is onscreen, which is quite frankly not enough. He essentially plays a cowboy version of himself. Love to see it. His character gets a fun ending twist with a nod to The Lost Boys, the quintessential ‘80s vampire comedy film. Karla Souza of How to Get Away with Murder fame delivers as the chilling antagonist. She’s daylighting as a pillar in the community and quickly goes dark after crossing paths with Bud. Vengeance is her game and she doesn’t play fair.
The final showdown between the pair is anticlimactic after such a great buildup; however, it ties things up in a neat and expected manner. Day Shift knows exactly what it is: a fun action flick that pairs perfectly with popcorn on a Friday night. There are plenty of enjoyable moments and funny one-liners from nearly every character for some genuine chuckles. There is room for a sequel but if it never happens, everyone’s story still wraps up in a satisfying way. It’s the kind of movie that you fire up to escape the world and dive into for a little less than two hours of absurdity, blood, creepy vampires, and shenanigans. And, to me, that’s cinema.
Day Shift hits Netflix on August 12.