The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has shut down the likes of Disney and Warner Bros from releasing their much-anticipated superhero flicks. But surprisingly, Netflix has been on a roll with its regular releases which now includes an intense and violent superhero movie named Project Power.
Starring Jaime Foxx as an ex-army soldier, Project Power also includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young cop and Dominique Fishback as an aspiring rapper who gets mixed up with a dangerous new drug in the streets of New Orleans. For fans of superhero and action flicks, Project Power provides a refreshing take but soon falls flat on its exciting premise.
Set in New Orleans, a mysterious new drug is distributed for free to a few drug dealers to be circulated in the city. The mysterious drug is designed to grant its user superpowers for exactly five minutes, but, it comes with a catch. Though the drug does grant superpowers, the nature of the powers cannot be determined unless the drug is ingested. As expected, a few powers do turn out to be disastrous, killing its users upon ingestion.
As the drug becomes extremely popular among the criminal underbelly, the temporarily superpowered criminals wreak havoc on the city, putting bystanders at risk. In order to level the playing field, Frank Shaver (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) chooses to rely on a particular type of pill to get his desired superpower. But soon, a mysterious ex-army soldier named The Major enters the scene with his own personal motivations.
Amidst these dangerous conditions, Robin Reilly (Dominique Fishback), a teenage student who is a prolific rapper gets caught up with peddling the mysterious drug to make ends meet. Unsurprisingly, things go downhill rapidly for her as she is kidnapped by The Major to locate the major distributor of the new drug in town.
As an intense fight breaks out between The Major and a few other criminals associated with the distribution of the drug, a larger plot in unraveled in the process, uniting Frank Shaver, Robin Reilly, and The Major.
Released on Netflix, Project Power pulls no punch in its display of violence and gore. Filled with high-octane fight sequences and striking visuals, Project Power is definitely an entertaining watch. But sadly, the movie loses its steam midway turning into a run-of-the-mill street-action thriller with ephemeral superpowers flashing across the dark and gritty city of New Orleans.
The return of Jaime Foxx in a superhero movie after his portrayal of Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is definitely exciting to watch. As The Major, Jaime Foxx plays a hardened and diabolical character who just wishes to find his missing daughter. Joseph Gordon-Levitt also returns to the superhero genre once again, after his missed out opportunity to become Robin in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Returns. Dominique Fishback’s stellar performance as a troubled teenager caught up in a dangerous situation adds the much needed witty humor to the gritty and violent flick.
Written by Mattson Tomlin, who is also the screenwriter of the upcoming The Batman (2021), Project Power is directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Paranormal Activity, Nerve). With a budget of $85 million, the movie does fail at times to justify its staggering production cost.
Despite having well-choreographed intense fight sequences and striking visuals, the movie does not have anything much to offer which we haven’t seen before. The entire premise of the movie lies on one question, ‘What if you took a pill that gave you superpowers for five minutes?’. Yet, the movie fails to explore the concept where it could have truly shone and stood apart from the nearly saturated and predictable superhero genre.
As the movie progresses, ‘incredible’ conspiracies like government authorities conniving with the mysterious drug distributors are unmasked. The fearsome and intense sequences involving Jaime Foxx along with the optimistic and compassionate NOPD cop trying to save his city played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt fail to provide the required emotional depth which the movie sorely needed to feel engaging. As a result, even the most astonishing fight sequences fail to engage as the characters seem detached.
But all’s not bad as Project Power delivers its threshold entertainment with interesting superpowers ranging from bulletproof skin to super strength. But like most movies involving mysterious new drugs, Project Power does not shy away from showing cases of overdosing as a few users are shown to die horrific deaths throughout the movie.
As Robin Reilly (Dominique Fishback) is shown to be a prolific rapper, Project Power is filled with remarkable rap songs which will make sure that you listen to the movie’s soundtrack after you are done with the movie.
This year, Netflix also released The Old Guard starring Charlize Theron, Chiwetel Ejiofor, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Harry Melling, and Van Veronica Ngo. The superhero flick became one of the most-watched movies on the streaming platform. Following the suit, Project Power is currently the top-watched movie on Netflix.
Unlike The Old Guard, Project Power does not try to set a sequel or even a prequel to explore the origins of The Major. Instead of building a world around it, Project Power chooses to be in a real-world scenario without investing in world-building. And, that might be the best part of the movie; to remain a one-time watch superhero flick with fast action, stunning cinematography, and zero emotional investment.