SuperFly acts as a ‘for the culture’ narrative and although it shares the same name and storyline of the 1972 classic, it proves to be more than a straightforward remake. Director X depicts the American hustler’s dream in the film, which stars Trevor Jackson (Grown-ish) as Youngblood Priest and Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton, The Chi, Mudbound).
“The best way to describe it is streets meets action,” says Taj Critchlow, CEO and president of Maxamus Entertainment and executive producer at Popp Rok, adding the film has the signatory style of its producer Joel Silver (The Matrix, Lethal Weapon) mixed with the flavour of X.
“This film’s definitely very personal for me, because it’s been a lifetime to get here,” continues Critchlow, who has worked closely with X for many years, as he speaks to a packed audience at the North American screening premiere of SuperFly in Toronto. Notable individuals in attendance include Toronto Mayor John Tory, co-founder of City TV Moses Znaimer and filmmaker RT!
SuperFly’s screenplay, written by Alex Tse, effectively touches on some of larger issues affecting society today, with its imagery and symbolism, from police brutality and corruption to the stereotypical portrayal of Black men involved in gang violence.
The original SuperFly from Gordon Parks Jr., starred the late Ron O’Neal as Youngblood Priest, who is the most fly drug dealer New York City has ever seen but wants out of the game. While O’Neal’s silk press and the style of the early ’70s make this film memorable, Superfly circa 2018 has colour, swagger and an air about it that sets it apart.
Reminiscent of the first film, the style and attitude of the characters are like they were in the Blaxploitation era, but with a refreshingly modern twist. Set in Atlanta this time, the flashy flare and verbiage of that city spills all over the screen with the furs, gold chains, watches, fast cars and, of course, strip club culture. This creates a new meaning for what the notion of being ‘superfly’ looks like in 2018.
Atlanta-native Future is the executive producer behind the film’s soundtrack. He also produced the film alongside Silver. Future builds on the legendary 1972 soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield with 13 songs fit for the big screen.
Jackson’s acting as Priest stands out as he portrays the life of a dope dealer torn between whether to give up the life he’s built and all he’s known to break free of it. In scenes where his emotions are running high, Priest keeps a cool head and talks his way out of sticky situations almost like it’s a test for him as to whether he can handle whatever comes at him.
While this film represents a new generation of hustlers, its underlying message is about always remaining one step ahead of the game.
There are quotable lines from Priest that break up the action throughout the film, and allow the audience to dive into his mind and understand choices he’s forced to make to stay true to himself and protect those close to him. “Information is power and power is priceless,” and “No car will outrun fate,” are examples of lines from Priest as he navigates through being at the top of his game and untouchable, to nearly losing everything due to the mistakes of his team.
While this film represents a new generation of hustlers, its underlying message is about always remaining one step ahead of the game — making real moves, no matter how long it will take you or what it might cost you.