Starring Trevor Jackson, Michael Kenneth Williams, Esai Morales, Jason Mitchell, Lex Scott Davis
“What the heck am I watching?!?” That’s the question I kept asking myself during most of “Superfly” a film by music video maker, Director X. “Superfly” manages to incorporate every negative Black male stereotype into a feature film that is so unoriginal it must rely on violence, nudity and comedy to keep the story intact. “One last deal and I’m out,” the main character says, like hundreds of leading actors before him, in hundreds of other movies. Phillip Fenty the writer of the 1972 film of the same name returns as co-writer, making the first screenplay he has worked on in 40 years. The glorification of drugs, violence, gang life and police brutality is almost as alarming as the audience around me cheering and responding positively to the negative subject matter.
They call him Priest (Jackson) but his lifestyle is anything but holy. Reared in a life of crime from a young age by mentor Scatter (Williams), both men become wealthy by distributing cocaine along the East Coast from their Atlanta hub. Rival gang Snow Patrol has long been envious of the respect Priest enjoys. Priest, known for his elaborate hair style and flashy clothes, eventually decides to get out of the game along with his two wives. But when an up and coming gang member in the all-white wearing Snow Patrol crew lashes out at the calm Priest, a war is started.
There are no positive life lessons here, no silver lining. “Superfly” glorifies all the wrong things.
It’s difficult to understand whether the majority of the laughter in “Superfly" was intended by the filmmakers as comic relief or if it’s just the knee-jerk reaction to the ridiculous content displayed. “You look like a giant bowl of rice,” Priest knocks the Snow Patrol leader at one point. Sequences of bare breasted strippers, shower threesomes, and an insurmountable level of gun worship makes “Superfly" both cringeworthy and the kind of negative influence teenagers should be shielded from, especially in the current climate. The message behind “Superfly” is that the drug dealing, thug lifestyle will lead to riches if you are clever enough to out-wit (kill) your enemies. The plot has the audacity to ask the audience for sympathy when one of Priest’s drug dealer friends is killed by a crooked cop.
The only way this disaster of a film could have saved itself is if Tyler Perry’s Madea popped out and bashed some of these guys over the head with her purse. There are no positive life lessons here, no silver lining. “Superfly” glorifies all the wrong things. A poorly shot and edited car chase scene has fancy sports cars racing about 30-40 mph through a local Georgia park. The final act of the film wraps everything up so quickly it’s easy to miss how things are resolved with corrupt cops, the Mexican drug cartel, the mentor, rival gangs, etc. As films like “Black Panther,” “Creed,” or “Moonlight” aim to appeal to a wide range audience; “Superfly” is the opposite, alienating and hyper focused on a specific audience who approves of the messages this film is sending.
A repulsive, pro-gang, pro-drug, pro-violence film that idolizes criminal behavior and lifestyle.