Project Power (2020)
“Project Power” stars Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dominique Fishback, Rodrigo Santoro, Colson Baker, Allen Maldonado, Amy Landecker, and Courtney B. Vance. Released on Netflix on August 14, 2020, the film has a teenage dealer teaming up with a cop and an ex-soldier to take down the group responsible for the creation of a super pill.
The film is directed by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, who also directed films such as “Catfish”, “Nerve”, and “Viral”. It’s been everyone’s dream to acquire superpowers, but like all dreams, they don’t last forever. This is another Netflix film that I was looking forward to not just because of its main cast, but also because of its concept. Instead of people having superpowers all the time, the film decided to include a drug that gives its consumer a superpower, which would’ve been cool if the side effects weren’t an issue. This film comes from the directing duo, Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, who are known for directing the “Paranormal Activity” sequels. Their track records as directors weren’t exactly top-tier, aside from their directorial debut “Catfish”, but they do provide some tolerable amounts of entertainment for their audiences. The only film from them that I ever reviewed on this blog before “Project Power” was “Nerve”, which I thought was pretty decent in terms of its energetic concept. Based on my experience with that film, I can see why the directors were chosen to helm something like this, but is it super enough to meet our superhero-sized expectations?
The story is set in a not-too-distant future, where a mysterious group has developed a unique pill that will grant its user a specific power for five minutes, whether it’s super strength or invisibility or the ability to become the Human Torch. While it does sound like a must-have for those who want to have superpowers, its deadly side effect is a different story. When people are using it to commit nefarious crimes, an unlikely group of people will have to join forces to stop the bad guys and their creation before it escalates even further. The group consists of Art (Foxx), an ex-soldier who’ll stop at nothing to rescue his daughter, police officer Frank Shaver (Gordon-Levitt), and a young drug dealer named Robin (Fishback). The one thing that interested me the most when it comes to the story was the pill itself. The film did pretty well in making sure that the origins of this super pill wasn’t too far fetched given its realistic tone as well as making it equivalent to an actual drug in real life. If there’s one thing we all know about drugs, it’s that they can get you high and/or kill you. This is something that could’ve worked well as a superhero action thriller that offers both thoughtful realism and entertainment values. Unfortunately, the film wasn’t able to transcend beyond its themes and its creativity. While I can admit that it’s not without a few enjoyable moments and some decent camerawork, the film is obviously a formulaic, bare-bones thriller that lacked the depth and high stakes that it was intended to have. Despite the main characters coming out as average and the supporting characters being one-dimensional, they’re suitable enough to be watchable thanks to its cast. Jaime Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were both good in their roles as Art and Frank respectively, while Dominique Fishback made a solid impression as Robin after appearing in “Night Comes On” and “The Hate U Give”. I was concerned that Fishback’s character might wind up being a bit annoying because supporting characters that are either kids or teenagers can often be a pain for certain viewers. Thankfully, Fishback was able to display her impressive acting skills in order to provide a character that’s both tolerable and vulnerable. The action sequences in the film were pretty fun to watch, especially when they don’t use a lot of headache-inducing editing. They’re not mind-blowing or anything, but in terms of the direction and camerawork, they’re able to provide enough tension for its intended audience.
Overall, “Project Power” packed enough punches to deliver its slick sense of enjoyability, but it lacked the supreme power it needed to take its creativity even further. While its cast and the action are enough for me to recommend it to certain fans of the genre, its formulaic storytelling and average characters may make the other people stay away from it like it was a harmful drug. After watching the likes of “Extraction” and “The Old Guard” from Netflix, I was a bit disappointed to see that “Project Power” wasn’t able to reach the same heights as those films in terms of the action genre. Regardless, it’s still a watchable film that I wouldn’t mind going back to in the near future.
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