Cast: Trevor Jackson, Jason Mitchell, Michael Kenneth Williams, Lex Scott Davis
Director: Director X
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: Superfly — the film that helped define a genre in its characters, look, sound, and feel — is reimagined with Director X, director of legendary music videos (Drake, Rihanna), introducing it to a new generation. The screenplay is by Alex Tse.
Having gone in Superfly with no background of the 1972 version of the film, I thought that a project produced by Future and directed by Director X is essentially going to be a 116 minute trap music video. And for the most part, that statement is true. However, that does not mean it is not an enjoyable film. While the plot can get a little convoluted at times, Superfly’s biggest strength is that it does not take itself too seriously and embraces many of the ridiculous aspects of this scenario perfectly.
The film follows Youngblood Priest (Jackson), a drug kingpin in Atlanta who plans every one of his moves with extreme precision and care. Wanting to escape this life and move on to a place where he does not have to constantly look over his shoulder, Priest devises a plan to make enough money in his last job to leave the street life for good. Whether or not he can overcome the massive obstacles surrounding this job is entirely based upon his abilities and the people he has surrounded himself with. Starting off with the plot, it seems to be a pretty straightforward story at first, but towards the ending many of the lines become blurred and the story gets messy. Any story that requires a very quick fix to multiple problems within the last 15 minutes probably is not the strongest story, and that is very clearly the case here. I understand that since this is a remake that there is already a story to base the movie off of, but if you can update the characters and city, you can update the story as well. Where the story succeeds is that for most of it, the film is very light and enjoyable to watch. The issue with many films that talk about things that the average person does not experience is that they tend to take themselves way too seriously. Superfly knows how over-the-top it is supposed to be and embraces it with ease. Most of the stunts, dialogue, and character development are enjoyable, with nothing in particular standing out to me as ridiculously bad or distracting. Regarding the directorial style of the movie, Director X did exactly what he is known for and gave Superfly a very music video feel to it. With that comes a lot of slow motion and smooth cinematography, but outside of that the film looks pretty decent in terms its style and color palate. Now, one of the things that Superfly does to an almost obscene level is that it indulges all of the things that make trap music video popular. It does not take a Rhodes Scholar to figure out that the multiple scenes shot in strip clubs or the scene with Priest having a threesome in the shower are there not because they are essential to the storyline, but because they are appealing to look at for the target demographic. The thing about this is that at least Superfly is honest about this type of content from the beginning and embraces just how goofy and lackadaisical the film is supposed to be. While certain scenes such as Priest using his karate background to dodge bullets go a little outside the realm of believability, Superfly is a great time just to sit back and turn your brain off for a couple of hours.
Overall, I have a generally hard time believing that Superfly will appeal to anyone outside of the intended audience, but that intended audience should have a pretty fun time with this film. The thing that all mediocre movies can learn from Superfly is that you can turn a generally forgettable movie into something a little bit more if you don’t take yourself too seriously. This honestly has inspired me to see the original Superfly to see how it compares, but I think my untainted viewing probably warrants a higher rating than this film probably deserves.
Overall Score: 5.5/10