PLOT: Bud Jablonski (Jamie Foxx) masquerades as a pool cleaner, but in reality, he’s a vampire hunter struggling to make ends meet in a competitive job market. Thrown out of the vampire killing union due to his attitude, he’s given one last shot to rejoin them but must impress a nerdy union rep (Dave Franco) with no vamp hunting experience. Meanwhile, an ancient vampire (Karla Souza) plots to turn the San Fernando Valley into a Mecca for the undead but harbours a deadly grudge against Jablonski and wants him and his family dead.
REVIEW: Day Shift is a lot less ambitious than some of Netflix’s other, bigger-budget would-be franchise starters. Here’s the thing – if they’ve put out anything this year that legitimately feels like it has the chance to be a franchise, this is it. While nothing you haven’t seen before, this is a modestly scaled vampire hunting action-comedy, a well-loved genre by horror fans. I expect this to rake in views for Netflix, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Jamie Foxx’s Bud Jablonski turns into a character he can reprise every few years for the streamer.
Indeed, Day Shift is fun, even if it feels less big-screen worthy than some of Netflix’s other, more expensive titles. Directed by J.J. Perry, who’s worked as a stunt coordinator for years, Day Shift is another 87North production. This company is run by David Leitch and Kelly McCormick, who are becoming the go-to Tinseltown action designers, recently doing Nobody and Bullet Train. While Jamie Foxx is a more familiar figure to the action genre than Bob Odenkirk, it’s cool to see him transformed into a vampire hunting version of John Wick, albeit one that’s more blue-collar. He’s a working stiff trying to make enough money to keep his ex (Meagan Good) from moving to Florida with their daughter. She’s convinced he’s a philanderer thanks to his late nights, but in reality, he’s just out killing vampires and trying to provide, and Foxx is likable as always.
He’s ably supported by a game cast headed by Dave Franco as the nerdy union rep sent to monitor his vamp killing. I liked that Franco, while uptight, is made to be sympathetic right from the get-go, and a clever twist in the third act gives him a lot more physical action to do, alongside a scene-stealing Natasha Liu Bordizzo as Foxx’s mysterious new neighbor. 87 North does have a knack for churning out unlikely action heroes, and they do this not only with Franco and Bordizzo but also with perhaps the most unexpected action hero of all – Snoop Dogg.
In it, Snoop plays a legendary vampire hunter/urban cowboy named Big John, who shows up now and again to save the day. The rapper looks like he’s legitimately having the time of his life in an action role, and like Christopher Lloyd in Nobody, he seems like he’s relishing the chance to do something no one ever expected from him. Meanwhile. Perry brings in two ringers for a terrific action set-piece in the middle – a hulking Steve Howey (from Shameless) and the great Scott Adkins. The two play vampire hunting brothers who take down a nest with Foxx, and this action set piece is bug nuts. While Netflix is bent on spinning off The Grey Man, maybe they would be better advised to give these two a modestly scaled action movie of their own. Adkins has been waiting for the day Hollywood would let him show his mettle, and while he only gets one set piece here, he’s clearly being directed by someone who knows what he’s capable of.
If Day Shift lacks something, it’s that the villain, Karla Souza’s Audrey San Fernando, isn’t given enough to do. Souza’s nice, low-key vibe distinguishes her a bit, but we don’t dig into her mythology enough to make her a scary villain. You know she’s no match for Foxx and Franco from the beginning, a common issue in action flicks like this. Foxx needed a larger-than-life villain to go up against, and Souza, while good, isn’t given enough meat to sink her fangs into (pun intended).
While not a jaw-dropping action flick by any means, Day Shift is still a fun Netflix programmer than will please action fans and take in millions of hours of views. I think this might be the movie that becomes a franchise for them mainly because it’s not too big. It’s the perfect scale for a Netflix movie, and while it might not work if it was theatrical, on streaming this one is a good fit.