Review by Brian Lowry, CNN
“Day Shift” is about vampires, but it’s one of those Frankenstein-like movies stitched together from used parts, with Jamie Foxx as a family man version of Marvel’s Blade, mashed up with horror and buddy comedy. It’s the kind of star-driven vehicle that yields obvious benefits to Netflix even if, qualitatively speaking, it doesn’t deserve to see the light of day.
Indeed, Foxx is clearly a favorite of the Netflix algorithm and likes cashing its checks, having starred in the movie “Project Power” and sitcom “Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!” in the last two years, the latter inspired and produced by his daughter, Corinne Foxx.
Parenthood is again at the heart of the plot, such as it is, in “Day Shift,” which could just as easily be titled “Dad: Vampire Slayer.” Foxx plays Bud Jablonski, a bounty hunter (he masquerades as a pool cleaner) struggling to make ends meet financially, suddenly given a major motivation to earn cash: His ex (Meagan Good) is planning to move away from Los Angeles with their young daughter (Zion Broadnax).
Unfortunately, Bud is on bad terms with the international vampire-hunting union, which assigns a nervous office worker, his union rep Seth (Dave Franco), to ride along with Bud and try to catch him committing code violations that will allow them to torpedo his career. That produces lots of banter, bickering and unfortunately, pants wetting, a natural if low-brow response to the new-to-him prospect of getting killed.
“Day Shift” mostly appears to exist for the violent, martial-arts-flavored fight sequences (these vampires are unexpectedly susceptible to getting punched in the face), but after the first encounter in which Bud dispatches an “old lady” who turns out to be a lot more than that, the abundant action yields diminishing returns.
There’s also a disposable villain, Audrey (“How to Get Away With Murder’s” Karla Souza), an ancient vampire who is sucking up real estate in the San Fernando Valley — an apt metaphor for the Southern California’s pricey housing market, perhaps, but otherwise pretty ho-hum as such threats go.
Making his directing debut, veteran stuntman J.J. Perry and writers Tyler Tice and Shay Hatten seek to unearth laughs and fun where they can, which includes having Snoop Dogg on board as a veteran vampire hunter. But like everything else in “Day Shift,” the movie has the feel of being made up as it goes along in between the fight scenes, anemically building toward a loud, long and tedious climactic showdown.
As noted, Netflix has exhibited a thirst for projects with Foxx on the marquee, and “Day Shift” will probably pay off in terms of its minutes-viewed criteria.
Yet while this form of escapism might yield bottom-line dividends thanks to the combination of premise and star, this is the sort of lifeless effort where the prudent advice would be not to quit your day jobs.
“Day Shift” premieres Aug. 12 on Netflix. It’s rated R.
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