1
Sep
2020
Project Power

Project Power

Imagine a pill that could grant you superhuman powers for five minutes. -Would you take it? 

Inside Netflix’s latest superhero offering that’s exactly what’s being offered to the inhabitants of New Orleans and police detective Frank Shaver (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is out to stop it. However, unbeknownst to him, he is not alone. Also tracking down the drug’s mysterious suppliers is the shadowy Art (Jamie Foxx) who is leaving a trail of bodies behind him. With the city rapidly becoming uncontrollable due to the spate of super-powered crimes, Frank will have to turn to a friend that he can’t admit to – his own power pill dealer, Robin (Dominique Fishback).

...an entertaining couple of hours that will keep you hooked well beyond the 5 minutes it promises.

Interestingly pitched between Marvel and the reality of a federally-forgotten New Orleans, directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s debut is a fetching cocktail of social realism and feel-good fantasy. With Joseph Gordon-Levitt looking decidedly more grizzled than in other previously chirpy, youthful appearances, you can’t help thinking that with this new older, Mark Whalberg-esque version would have made Rian Johnson’s Looper a much more convincing sell – but that’s a discussion for a different day.

You see, woven inside this tale of a drug that grants unpredictable superpowers, is refreshing a vein of social critique. Set in a modern-day New Orleans which still bears the scars of Hurricane Katrina and the meaningless thoughts and prayers the north of America offered, both the movie’s main and incidental characters all feel grounded in an approachable reality. 

With more than solid special effects and a reasonably individual sense of composition, Project Power initially feels much more than its superhero premise. Jamie Foxx as Art delivers another more than watchable performance, however, it is the arrival of Dominique Fishback who really carries the first half of the movie. Cast as a home carer who also deals power pills on the side, she, in fact, straddles both the movie’s super-powered narrative and its urban subtext so well, that she becomes the glue for both. That said, as we move in the third act (and like James Mangold’s Logan), superhero tropes become narratively due and inevitable face-offs ensue.

As a more-than-solid action movie for weekend’s viewing pleasure and an infinitely better vehicle that the more derivative The Old GuardProject Power‘s arrival begs a much deeper question. Why, if I can watch a movie with this star wattage and execution, would I want to spend upwards of $19 on a PVOD, when I can all of this and more, for half of the price? 

The simple fact is that Netflix is producing a prodigious amount of new content at an insane rate. -Can they keep it up? -Who knows? But in the meantime, I’d say settle down with some homemade popcorn and enjoy the tidal wave coming at you. Like as many of its other recent Oscar-laden productions, Project Power is an entertaining couple of hours that will keep you hooked well beyond the 5 minutes it promises.

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