The announcement that confused audiences more than anything: there will be a remake of the famed 1970s Blacksploitation classic, Superfly. While some voiced displeasure, many didn’t even acknowledge it or cared enough to comment. Which in turn, became the best benefit as it allowed those that are interested in this version of Superfly, be it fans of the original or newcomers drawn in by the trailer (peep here).
This modernized re-imagination of Superfly, helmed by Director X, chronicles the path of Youngblood Priest (Trevor Jackson), a top coke dealer and his partner in crime, Eddie (Jason Mitchell) as they circumvent Atlanta’s underworld. After a run in with rival group, Snow Patrol (Kaalan Walker nearly steals the show as Juju), the deeply perceptive Priest sees the writing on the wall and attempts to pull one last move in an attempt to eject himself, Eddie, and his inspiration, Georgia (Lex Scott Davis) out of Atlanta and the lifestyle. Only problem is; he has to go through his mentor Scatter (Michael Kenneth Williams), in what gives way to one of many thematic elements explored in Superfly.
Outside of the stellar cast and cameos (more on that later), Superfly plays within an interesting subtext: business 101 represented through the extremes of flaunting success vs silent expansion/growth. Youngblood Priest and Eddie operate through subtly, building base through bond and years of faithfulness to other custoners, dealers and major players. On the other hand, Snow Patrol flaunts their riches through leather clad (snow) white apparel, cars (luxurious cars), and even their guns. You’re on the squad or you’re a target. Straight up. It’s something one would see in The Warriors (1975) and not think twice. However, this is Director X’s Superfly, and his clan of antagonists completely owns the look. Which makes one want to see more due to the visual clashing with Priest and Eddie’s black on black motif. The look (and film language) added to the thematic elements combine to create an enthralling look at the world of Superfly.
The setting is what makes this film more enticing, a sociopolitical climate that is reflective of reality. The Blue on Black crime: abuse of power, outright slayings, zero accountability; are painfully accurate. But not too accurate, this is Director X’s Superfly. Priest and Eddie inevitably crossing paths with Detective Mason (Jennifer Morrison) and Officer Turk Franklin (Brian Durkin); embodiments of America’s more recent blemishes of corruption and glorification of murdering Black people, swells into a particular cathartic energy. The kind of energy that involves those protected by badge never getting their comeuppance. Thankfully this is Director X’s Superfly! The actions of Youngblood Priest cements him in (cinematic) Black history month. That alone is worth the price of admission in what is one of the most polarizing scenes in years that didn’t cost an exhaustive CGI setup to pull off.
Another element that adds to the spectacle that is Superfly, the casting. Outside of the major players, Atlanta’s own Big Boi as Mayor Atkins is a convincing performance. Atkins is a mayor with good intentions for the city but has a hard party streak behind closed doors. Always a gift to hear the legendary Big Boi spitting bars or on the screen. Rick Ross plays a convincing drug dealer as Racks. He was one of the brighter moments in the celebration scene with Priest and his crew. Zaytoven and Lecrae had cameos during the more musical moments of the film (more on that coming up). While wide receiver of the Atlanta Falcons, Roddy White was a beneficiary to a lovely lady playing a stripper in the background of his scene. If you’re shooting in Atlanta, you gotta get as many hometown reps as possible.
Superfly sports a killer soundtrack that was given the Black Panther treatment. Outside of a couple tracks, Future curates the musical project. To hear it queued up during transitioning shots or montages is especially awesome. The soundtrack is impressive and can stand alone as it’s own entity within the Superfly world. The project features Notable standout tracks include (but aren’t limited to): No Shame ft PARTYNEXTDOOR, This Way with Khalid and H.E.R., Bag ft Young Bans, and Nowhere. It also has Young Thug, Lil Wayne, 21 Savage, Gunna, Scar and Sleepy Brown on various tracks. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to the complete Superfly experience. Bump this soundtrack on your preferred streaming platform.
Director X’s Superfly is a remake worth watching in an era of remakes. Those that have seen the 1970s Superfly will be satisfied no matter how many ways they want to look for a reason to turn up their noses. Those curious about this modernized version of Superfly will be in for good time. Youngblood Priest is a pillar of Black heroism. Director X’s Superfly must be seen for optimal appreciation. Don’t let the drugs fool ya.