2018 | DIR. X | STARRING: TREVOR JACKSON, JASON MITCHELL, JENNIFER MORRISON, MICHAEL K WILLIAMS | REVIEW BY SHAUN CRAWFORD.
What separates the 2018 version is that it’s sheer and unbelievable excess of material, which counters everything the film is about thematically, and is actually the kind of stuff they should be showing film students around the world in classes titled ‘When Nothing About Your Story Makes Sense’.
Trevor Jackson stars as Youngblood Priest (sporting the most ridiculous haircut committed to film in 2018) who is a black-belt jujutsu master, mansion-living, Maserati-driving, designer label-wearing owner of a second-hand furniture business who is also the head of one of the two biggest drug operations in Atlanta. He owes his success to his pragmatic approach to his narcotics business, that is to say he doesn’t take unnecessary risks and keeps his head down and off the radar.
While he drives a Maserati.
And lives in his mansion.
And wears all the high-end designer labels.
And attends all the VIP clubs.
And rubs shoulders with societies movers-and-shakers.
Yeah, just ask the IRS. The second hand furniture business is booming in Atlanta. But trouble starts brewing when a rival faction, The Snow Patrol (a crew that only wears customised black & white threads, drives customised black & white vehicles, sports firearms that are customised to be black & white, again... masters of the low profile), try to muscle in on Youngblood’s business. With this new pressure from the streets Priest decides to retire (the films lead actor, Jackson, himself is a mere 22yrs old...how old can Priest be? Not so old he can retire, surely?) after cutting out his source and mentor Scatter (the ever reliable Michael Kenneth Williams) and going straight to the bosses boss and kingpin, Adalberto Gonzalez (Esai Morales).
From here Priest’s life spirals into chaos with shootings, corrupt FBI agents, tense meetings, subterfuge and bullshit. For a crew that like to stay on the down-low, Priest and his cohorts - and his enemies - light up Atlanta’s streets in a fury of violence and tension and it all goes against the crews ethos of keeping a low profile.
The excesses of the film are either deliberately designed to be playing it for shucks with everyone’s tongues firmly in their cheeks, or they’re presenting a limitless, glamourised hood-livin' lifestyle and no matter which way you look at it the case is presented with such ambiguity the viewer is left to wrestle with the idea that the film is either smarter than them or so inept that we’re left looking for a moral tale that just isn’t there.
In the end the $15-million SUPERFLY’s biggest transgression isn’t that it’s a laughably mundane rote story, nor that its glitzy fantasy excesses are contrary to the (what little) heart of the film, nor even the fact it objectifies every woman it casts and puts in front of the lens. The biggest mistake SUPERFLY makes is that it’s boring... And that’s saying something.