Netflix’s Day Shift Review: Sharp fangs but a weak bite
Netflix’s latest action blockbuster Day Shift showcases some epic action that help director JJ Perry live up to his strong pedigree as a second unit director and stunt coordinator but is mostly forgettable and clumsily put together.
The film follows hardworking but discredited vampire hunter Bud (Jamie Foxx) as he becomes desperate for money after he fears that his family is about to move away from him. Thus, Bud is forced to go back to the union of hunters that he was kicked out of and ends up being reinstated but with a catch. He’s not only forced to work the less profitable day shift in his sunny San Fernando Valley hometown, but he’s also paired with Seth (Dave Franco), an overly cautious desk guy that hates guns and is mostly there to keep Bud in check. The two butt heads from time to time but are forced to come together when a powerful vampire named Andrea (Karla Souza) targets Bud for revenge.
If Day Shift excels at anything, it’s delivering incredibly engaging and fun action filled with blood and jaw-dropping blows. Literally right from the first scene, Day Shift throws viewers right into some amazing and stunning action choreography that’s not afraid to let the blood start flying. Perry’s a seasoned second-unit director, who generally handles big action sequences in films, and stunt coordinator who’s worked on films like Bloodshot, the Fast and Furious films, and the John Wick franchise. All that experience excellently comes through throughout the film as Perry crafts incredible fight sequences and an action-packed car chase.
Perry utilizes contortionist movement better than anyone I’ve seen in other films to not only add some creepiness to action, but also create some dynamic movement that makes for some visual engaging action. Generally, Perry knows how to deliver exactly what viewers would want in this kind of action horror movie. There are plenty of bloody kills and creative decapitations that’ll leave viewers stunned and roaring with cheers. The film’s never afraid of delivering hard knocks and has some surprisingly brutal moments. Plus, viewers will get something they never knew they wanted: Snoop Dogg dressed as a cowboy vampire hunter mowing vampires down with a minigun.
Day Shift can offer the goods that fans would want to see, but it doesn’t go much further than the action. In terms of characters, the film rides heavily on the personalities and charm of its actors as they barely stand out. Their stories are incredibly cliché and thin for the most part and rarely do the jokes they have ever really get a laugh. The world-building also lacks at times and the film barely ever finds any meaningful way for its world of vampires and hunters to be interesting. The only time where the world-building works is when Bud and Seth first go out hunting together as Bud’s talk about weaponry and Seth’s astute knowledge of vampires feel like organic ways to deliver exposition and lore. Other than that though, their dynamic is just generic street smarts versus book smarts conflicts that lack impact.
Honestly, the stakes never feel high in Day Shift to the point where if Perry didn’t make the action so engaging and creative, it would probably barely hold your attention. The film barely creates a cohesive and consistent story as it had one of the most rushed and forced third acts I’ve seen lately and barely spends any meaningful time building up its antagonist. Its attempts to lean more into being cool and epic make it come off lame and generic and its star power isn’t enough to add some genuine charm to the film. Frankly if Day Shift leaned more into the horror and modern western vibes it sometimes emits, it could’ve left a strong impression. But it doesn’t and ultimately becomes more forgettable with time.
Day Shift shows Perry as a strong action visionary in his directorial debut, but barely does much else to bring viewers into a unique or remotely interesting world of vampires making it have sharp fangs but a weak bite.