“SuperFly”

 

            First, a fair warning: “Rated R for violence and language throughout, strong sexuality, nudity, and drug content.”  This one's not for the genteel ladies in the book club.

            That said, it's a lot more interesting than “Book Club,” where nothing much happens except a lot of chitchat.  This remake of the 1972 film is mostly about a drug dealer, Youngblood Priest (Trevor Jackson) who's been hustling on the street since he was 11, and now he's a kingpin.  The fact that he's been smart enough to survive into adulthood means that he's also smart enough to figure out that everybody in his line of work winds up dead or in prison.  So he plans one last, big transaction so he can fly off to Montenegro and live happily ever after with his true love, Georgia (Lex Scott Davis).  But there are a few obstacles along the way.

            First, there's his partner in crime, Eddie (Jason Mitchell), who isn't ready to retire; he still likes the action.  Then there's the small matter of a rival street gang, not to mention his old mentor, Scatter (Michael Kenneth Williams) who isn't ready to ride into the sunset, either, and he has strong personal ties with Adalberto Gonzalez (Esai Morales), of the Mexican drug cartel, who incinerates people he doesn't like.  Then, to complicate matters further, a couple of crooked cops insinuate themselves into the action.

            But the plot is really just a device to exhibit the pure hero qualities of “SuperFly”:  he dresses like he just stepped out of “Esquire” magazine.  He drives a great car.  He rarely raises his voice or uses profanity, as if he's got too much self-control for all that, though the scatalogical language is all around him.  He owns private casinos, but he doesn't gamble.  When a rival gang member comes after him, and he defends himself, he pays a visit to the other boss man, just to make sure there's no misunderstanding.  (It takes courage to walk into the lion's den.)  He's faithful to his one true love, but he's also tolerant if she occasionally wants to bring another girl to join the fun.  He has a “legit” furniture business which ostensibly serves to launder the cash inflow.  He directs a drug ring but doesn't use drugs himself. (And he's effectively insulated from any sad addicts.)  He will occasionally enjoy a shot of whiskey, but he's never out of control.  He owns a nicely-furnished home, with lots of cash in the wall safe for his “getaway” plan.  And he'll need it.

            Yes, there is gratuitous nudity (it's been a while since any movie has attempted more than one scene in a topless bar).  The car chase sequence is full of adrenalin, not to mention dramatic crashes and rollovers. The violence is brutal and realistic; also up close and personal.  And yes, there are strong racial overtones, even in the singing at a graveside, and the last word is Superfly beating the corrupt white cop with his own baton. 

            No, it's not for the faint of heart.  But it will definitely develop a niche following.

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association