Jamie Foxx, one of the hardest working talents in Hollywood, has a new movie out this week on Netflix. It’s a film that expands the scope of what a pool boy can do. Do you think I am lying? Foxx plays Bud Jablonski, a man who ensures your pH never gets higher than 7.8, or the water will become too alkaline. But he also double-dips as a vampire hunter in Day Shift. An action-comedy oozing charm and appeal is a credit to the film’s magnetic lead.
The story starts with Bud staking out a home and is ready to hunt a vamp, but he comes across a sweet old lady in pajamas. Her room is dark, and the curtains are drawn, yet Bud blows a hole into her torso. Hey, he’s just a hard-working father trying to make a living. A man who needs to pay for his daughter’s (played by Zion Broadnax, specializing in yelling “Mom” or “Dad!”) tuition and a mouth full of metal. Bud collects the vamp’s fangs because they cannot live without them. The older the kill, the more money he receives.
Unfortunately for Bud, just because the old biddy looked like a walking ad for the AARP doesn’t mean she was an elder. In fact, when he tries to cash in the teeth for a huge payday, it turns out they were the daughter of an uber-vamp, Audrey San Fernando (Home Economics’ Karla Souza). A real-estate mogul/bloodsucker who is looking for revenge. The issue in the meantime is Bud needs money by Monday to pay his bills. Why? Because his estranged wife (Meagan Good) will take Zion to Florida. That means getting back into The Union, a secret government-funded nosferatu hunting organization that pays a premium for his services. To do that, he needs the help of Big John (Snoop Dogg) and must be supervised by a Union rep, Seth (Dave Franco).
Day Shift works, in part, because freshman director J.J. Perry knows how to set, frame, and sell action scenes. The veteran stuntman and coordinator on such films as F9: The Fast Sage, Spy, and John Wick 2 makes them quick, visceral, constant, and easy on the eyes. While there are a few brief moments that felt choreographed by the end of the film, there are several spectacular action moments in Tyler Tice and Shay Hatten’s script. The best is a scene that includes Steve Howie (I love Reba, you should too), who teams up with Bud and Seth as they entire a hive overflowing with vampiric monsters. This is an example of what Day Shift does well — combine comedy with exhilarating action. Something that Foxx and Franco do well here selling a buddy-action comedy.
Day Shift isn’t exactly perfect. By the third act, you get more of the same repetitive action. Perry also has trouble fleshing out an ending that exceeds the definition of adequate. There is a plot twist where Bud feels betrayed that feels like an explanatory scene may have gotten left on the cutting room floor. However, it hardly matters. The film is aimed at a Netflix and chill date movie. And by that standard, it fits the bill. There are solid laughs, genuine frights, and solid fun for 90-minutes.
Is this a tired subject matter? Kind of. Does Day Shift break new ground in the vampire genre? Hardly, but you are reading a review by a critic who considers Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter a misunderstood gem in historical fiction and cringes anytime Twilight pops up channel surfing (yes, I’m an old man, and it’s still a thing). So why should you trust me since my opinions on this subject are all over the place? You don’t have to, but I’m not here to waste your time either.