Written by: Adam Vaughn | August 12th, 2022
Day Shift (J.J. Perry, 2022) 2 out of 4 stars.
Just in time for the summer is a Los Angeles action-comedy about Bud Jablonski (Jamie Foxx, Project Power), a seemingly innocent pool janitor by day who at night (and just in dark places) spends his time hunting vampires. When his ex-wife Jocelyn (Meagan Good, Monster Hunter) threatens to leave L.A. with his daughter Paige (Zion Broadnax), Bud must win the trust of the Vampire Hunter League in order to earn one last big score. Aided by his friend Big John Elliot (Snoop Dog), his dimwitted new League partner Seth (Dave Franco, 6 Underground), and his mysterious new neighbor Heather (Natasha Liu Bordizzo, The Voyeurs), Bud sets out to make his final payday from collecting vampire teeth, all the while dodging the wrath of a vampire-syndicate leader Audrey San Fernando (Karla Souza, Jacob’s Ladder).
Sounds like a lot? That’s because former stuntman-turned-director J.J. Perry (known for his work in the John Wick movies) takes on a high concept thriller premise and relies heavily on action-packed sequences and witty humor to carry a less-than-superb story across a feature-length film. Sure, Day Shift has tons of fun moments, including the comical dynamics created between Foxx and Franco (much in the vein of 21 Jump Street or the various two-guns narratives out there), and a wide array of well-choreographed combat between vampire and hunter. I also thoroughly enjoyed the overall art direction, with Perry choosing key locations and aesthetics for a world where vampires live in LA. Overall, Day Shift will have no issue pleasing the average viewer and be a fun summer action-comedy.
Yet as a work of cinema, Day Shift has very little new and original content to offer. We’ve seen the veteran cop try to prove himself one last time, we’ve seen the pairing of two unlikely partners working out their differences, and we’ve seen the “I’ve got to get my daughter/wife/family back” story points all before. Perry’s film, exciting as it is, relies on tropes to convey its messages and riffs on well-known conventions to make it all happen. In truth, the outcome is still entertaining and enjoyable, but it’s fairly clear that Day Shift doesn’t seek to touch any deeper moral or social issues, but merely paints the single motif of what a city plagued by vampirical forces would look like.
While Day Shift may be a light and fluffy cinematic experience, it does give several big-name actors an opportunity to shine. Foxx’s rogue-cop conviction works as an effective lead, with multiple supporting roles to boost his character arc, including Franco’s consistent one-liners, Good and Broadnax utilizing witty wife-and-daughter dialogue and Snoop Dog never failing to deliver his own unique poise and swagger. The characters in Day Shift all play their part in making the film a satisfying experience, at a bare minimum. Perry’s stunt-driven film may not be all that substantial, but it certainly does its job to amuse and thrill its audience.