Under the Radar

'Superfly': Every Generation Needs One Last Score

Trevor Jackson and Jason Mitchell star in "Superfly." (Sony Pictures)

The new remake of "Superfly" (out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital) moves the story from the rundown NYC of 1972 to the glitz and glamor of hip hop Atlanta in 2018. Trevor Jackson plays Youngblood Priest, a street hustler and cocaine dealer looking for one last score that will get him out of the game and into a safe (and wealthy) retirement.

Director X, known for his acclaimed hip-hop videos, makes his feature debut and presents an on-screen version of the (mostly imaginary) lifestyle described in the songs created by the artists he's directed before. ATL rap legend Future gets a producer credit on the movie and curated the soundtrack, which mixes new songs with snippets of the Curtis Mayfield soundtrack to the original movie.  

Really old people will complain that Trevor Jackson is nothing like Ron O'Neal in the original "Super Fly." Slightly younger (but still old) people will point out that the script is like a thousand other gangster movies and ask if we really need to see this story again.

For the movie's target audience, the answer will be a firm yes. Director X captures both the glamor and ugly grit of modern ATL in a way that no other movie has since the city's Hollywood boom started a decade ago.

OutKast's Big Boi plays a very corrupt ATL mayor who bears a striking resemblance to Atlanta's previous (and likely corrupt) mayor Kasim Reed, a politician who got his start as a lawyer in the city's hip hop business. Michael Kenneth Williams (Omar from "The Wire") plays Priest's mentor Scatter and Esai Morales basically plays the same role he played in season one of the Georgia-filmed series "Ozark" (with the same result).

Jennifer Morrison ("House," "Once Upon a Time") plays the leader of a group of very dirty ATL cops that call themselves the Snow Patrol, while Jason Mitchell (Eazy-E in "Straight Outta Compton") plays Eddie, Priest's #2 and a guy who loves the thug life.

Priest is also in a polyamorous relationship with Georgia (Lex Scott Davis from "The First Purge") and Cynthia (Andrea Londo from "Narcos). Both women know how to handle a gun and both feature in an extended shower/love scene with Priest. There are some excellent featurettes about the making of the film and the soundtrack.  

Is "Superfly" destined to be an iconic classic like the original "Super Fly"? Probably not, but the truth is the original movie would have probably been forgotten without Curtis Mayfield's soundtrack, one of the best of all time. Future offers a solid rundown of the contemporary ATL trap scene, but there isn't really a track that equals music from the original.

Still, there are plenty of car chases and gunfights. Atlanta gets to look like the blinged-out hub of hip hop culture that it really is, with all the exaggerations that movie magic can bring. 

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