Flaws just make ‘Su­per­fly’ more flashy

USA TODAY International Edition - - LIFE - Brian Truitt Colum­nist

Some­where be­tween ridicu­lously stylish and stylishly ridicu­lous lies “Su­per­fly,” a mod­ern so-bad-it’s-kinda-good re­make of the 1970s blax­ploita­tion clas­sic that of­fers as much close-up twerk­ing as kung fu fight­ing.

Like a bonkers mashup of “The Last Dragon,” “Scar­face“and a par­tic­u­larly gonzo episode of “Em­pire,” “Su­per­fly” (★★g☆; rated R; in the­aters na­tion­wide Wed­nes­day) is chock-full of all the sex and ul­tra­vi­o­lence you’d imag­ine find­ing on the streets of At­lanta with a bunch of co­caine deal­ers, ex­otic dancers and dirty cops liv­ing their most dan­ger­ous, ac­tion-packed lives.

Led by a swag­ger­ing Trevor Jackson – bran­dish­ing silky Mor­ris Day hair, deadly karate kicks and flashy wardrobe changes – the ur­ban crime drama con­tains cheesy di­a­logue, one note­wor­thy three­some, scenes of rain­ing Ben­jamins and plot tran­si­tions aplenty. Rather than deep-six­ing “Su­per­fly,” how­ever, these flaws con­trib­ute to the film’s self-aware, guilty-plea­sure vibe.

Fans of the orig­i­nal 1972 “Su­per Fly” will find a sim­i­lar story: On the hus­tle since he was 11, Young­blood Priest (Jackson) has a knack for see­ing sev­eral moves ahead of ev­ery­body else in the drug game. One night a ri­val gang­ster pulls a gun on him, but thanks to a sweet “Ma­trix”-type move, Priest isn’t hit but a fe­male by­stander is wounded. The mo­ment causes Priest to se­ri­ously ponder his life choices: Specif­i­cally, he’s ei­ther go­ing to die or end up in prison if he stays on this path.

Priest de­cides he needs one fi­nal score to net enough money so he and his two girl­friends, Ge­or­gia (Lex Scott Davis) and Cyn­thia (Andrea Londo), can high­tail it out of the coun­try. Priest reaches out to boss/sen­sei Scat­ter (Michael K. Wil­liams) to in­crease prod­uct, but the el­der crim­i­nal balks, not want­ing to at­tract po­lice in­ter­est. So Priest and his part­ner, Ed­die (the su­per-du­per-fly Ja­son Mitchell), go around Scat­ter to deal with his sup­plier, the en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious Mex­i­can drug lord Adal­berto Gon­za­lez (Esai Mo­rales), which causes way more headaches for the em­bat­tled Priest.

Al­most ev­ery­body’s over­act­ing like a champ, though the most scenery is chewed by Jen­nifer Mor­ri­son and Brian F. Durkin as cor­rupt law en­force­ment. “Su­per­fly” touches on po­lice bru­tal­ity and Black Lives Mat­ter, though it’s less pro­gres­sive with its fe­male char­ac­ters.

Ev­ery­thing’s a lit­tle over-the-top here, as film­maker Di­rec­tor X seems to be em­brac­ing a “Fast and Furious” aes­thetic. In one tense scene, a door is opened on an air­plane mid­flight, but in­stead of get­ting sucked out and sent to their doom, dudes stand around as if it’s a windy day. A bunch of coke-sling­ing goons dressed all in white known as the Snow Pa­trol (a lit­tle on the nose, but we’ll al­low it) look as if they saun­tered out of a G.I. Joe car­toon. And in “Su­per­fly’s” big car chase, ve­hi­cles drift-race through a park and a Con­fed­er­ate statue goes up in flames.

The sound­track is full of new Fu­ture songs, and, nat­u­rally, old-school Cur­tis May­field tunes from the orig­i­nal film also make an ap­pear­ance.

But you don’t have to love rap to find the new “Su­per­fly” a bizarrely watch­able and of­ten funny con­flu­ence of thug life and B-movie campi­ness.


Su­per-stylish Priest (Trevor Jackson) re­thinks life in the fast lane in “Su­per­fly.”

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