Director: J.J. Perry
Writers: Shay Hatten & Tyler Tice
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Dave Franco, Snoop Dogg, Karla Souza, and Meagan Good
Premise: A hard-working, blue-collar dad who just wants to provide a good life for his quick-witted 8-year-old daughter. His mundane San Fernando Valley pool cleaning job is a front for his real source of income: hunting and killing vampires.
Day Shift, the debut film from director J.J. Perry, is the latest offering from Netflix’s “throw it all at the wall and see what sticks” streaming blockbuster playbook. Despite dressing up an overdone action movie skeleton with genre fare, Day Shift succeeds by the skin of its stylistic action choreography and fun buddy energy between Dave Franco and Jamie Foxx. Though the story isn’t as meaty or interesting as you might like, the energy and quick pace of the film helps Day Shift stand out from the pack.
Bud (Jamie Foxx) is a disgraced vampire hunter ousted from a clandestine union of vampire hunters. He has a front as a pool cleaner but makes his money by wiping out vampires and collecting their fangs for profit. When he learns his ex-wife is considering relocating herself and their daughter, Bud finds himself in need of a quick $10,000 to keep his estranged family close to him.
The script’s contrivances to get Bud back in with the union so he can earn more is perhaps the weakest part of Day Shift. The cantankerous union boss Seeger (Eric Lange) reluctantly agrees to let Bud back on the payroll but sidles him with pencil pusher and corporate wet blanket Seth (Dave Franco). The pair are your standard buddy cop archetypes, with Bud playing by his own rules and Seth quoting regulations like scripture. But there’s a sweet charm to Franco’s performance that’s endearing when he’s interacting with the more grizzled Bud.
In terms of choreography, Day Shift often plays a bit like John Wick with vampires. Considering that director Perry’s filmography includes a lot of high profile stunt coordinator credits (including John Wick: Chapter 2), this doesn’t come as a surprise. What is surprising is just how well the gritty and frenetic action sequences complement the heightened genre trappings of the vampire setting. The action’s fluidity is captured through quick camera movements and heightened by the supernatural contortions of the vampire characters. It all mixes together in an entertaining action spectacle with a high body count to boot.
Despite the strengths of its action set pieces, Day Shift falters at a script level. The introduction of a mysterious neighbor feels superfluous and out of place. The film takes that character to expected places that don’t feel properly setup. Likewise, Bud’s family issues feel a bit like a narrative afterthought as the film concentrates more on Franco and Foxx’s chemistry together than anything else. Finally, Snoop Dogg’s role feels underwritten. His performance is fine but the stature of the character begs further explanation and exploration.
Naturally, Day Shift employs a mysterious villain plot dynamic that works some of the time. The motivations behind the villain going after Bud and her plans for consolidating the local vampire population at times feels haphazard and not very interesting. She also isn’t adequately built up as much of a formidable final boss as the movie wants us to believe. Though, the final set piece involving her is ultimately quite satisfying.
Day Shift goes down a couple unexpected routes with varying levels of success. However, this is a blockbuster that’s built around entertaining action set pieces and the charisma of its two leads. Should this warrant a sequel, I’d be interested to see where the story leads and look forward to rejoining some of the characters for further adventures in this world.
Day Shift premieres on Netflix on August 12, 2022
About the Writer: Matt Hurt is the creator of ObsessiveViewer.com. He also created, hosts, and produces The Obsessive Viewer, Anthology, and Tower Junkies podcasts. He is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association and lives in Indianapolis with his cat Pizza Roll.