On The Hustle: Our Review of ‘Superfly’ (2018)

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - June 14, 2018
On The Hustle: Our Review of ‘Superfly’ (2018)

“Hustlin’ times and ghetto streets, Tryin’ to get over…”

This updated look at Superfly manages to find the spirit of the Gordon Parks original while finding a slick action edge that evokes the likes of Michael Mann’s Heat, Mario Van Peebles New Jack City and Sugar Hill from the 90’s with Wesley Snipes.  The film doesn’t hit any original beats but borrows stylistically from some of the best, both old and new in order to create an entertaining affair.

Inspired by the 1972 original film, Superfly tracks the story of a young drug dealer named Priest (Trevor Jackson) who sees how the business around him is going and is looking to make one last big score so that he can get out for good.

An experienced director but only sitting on his second ever feature, Toronto’s own Director X shows a steady hand moving up in the world with this updated look at Superfly.  While he still leans a little too hard on his stylistic influences he obviously borrows from some of the best in the business and can carry the weight of a large budget feature without getting bogged down in action set pieces or overly flashy moments because everything that gets thrown on the screen by X, while not necessarily flashy…still works damn well.

Playing off of his extensive music video experience, Director X has a very clear sense of staging as almost everything looks better then it reported $16 million dollar budget.  He tries to approximate Michael Mann at times with his visuals and it makes me excited to see the kind of work he could do one day with nine figure budgets on something.  The script from Alex Tse is admittedly a little messy at times as it leans a little too hard into the clichés of the genre at times but to its credit it never feels too forced or trying to shoehorn any bits or segments into the narrative.  X keeps it running at an efficient pace even when the fairly inexperience cast begins to show its colours.

While he plays it a little too quiet for my liking at times, Trevor Jackson makes for a solid leading man and while he lacks that natural Ron O’Neal swagger he exudes a quiet calm that makes for its unique presence because while in the 70’s you may have needed to puff out your chest to get attention, Jackson gets pretty close to the same vibe with a solid stare and a quiet yet foreboding monologue.  Jason Mitchell who most audiences would recognize from the recent Straight Outta Compton does a solid job as his best friend and right hand man while the likes of Michael Kenneth Williams, Esai Morales and Jennifer Morrison provide some interesting flavour along the way.

For a young ensemble and crew with little experience, they make Superfly a slightly messy but entertaining experience that make us look forward to seeing what all of them might get up to next time out.

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David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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