‘Project Power’ is Netflix’s latest addition to the its action movie arsenal after “The Old Guard.” It definitely doesn’t do better than its predecessor but with the film boasting a large budget, a phenomenal cast and a brilliant concept it did definitely entertain. What upset me the most was that it had a huge amount of potential, but it didn’t completely justify it. For a film that revisits the frequently explored idea that human beings aren’t working at full capacity – Lucy and Limitless – the film comes across as being desperately in need of more fun. Yes, some scenes were conceived extremely well and I did geek out a couple of times – like when Art went all super saiyan – but the film that could’ve had so many highs and lows was largely flat. Visually the film was nothing less than joyous to watch but with a more tightly knit screenplay, it could’ve definitely been a powerful beginning to a new franchise of films. For those who thought this as a replacement for Wonder Woman 1984 or Black Widow would have to dial down their expectations a bit.
Set in New Orleans, the film revolves around a mysterious new drug that can give humans superpowers for 5 minutes. These superpowers can range from super strength to being covered in fire or even invisibility – all obtained from animals. The pill is manufactured by a corporation run by ‘Biggie’ (Rodrigo Santoro) whose motives aren’t really made clear. The lives of three characters, Art, Frank and Robin, collide in an attempt to stop this organization. Art (Jamie Foxx) was a soldier on whom the drug was first tested on. Now, his daughter has been captured by the same organization due to Art’s latent powers passed down to her. He is on a mission to get his daughter back. Robin (Dominique Fishback) is is a lowly, teenage peddler of the pill who needs the money and one of her customers is a cop, Frank (Joseph Gordon Levitt), who takes the same drug he’s trying to eradicate from the streets.
While the concept of the film is extremely interesting, the film is unfortunately filled with multiple action movie clichés. The protagonist is the typical strong and silent type who can somehow stand toe-to-toe with super powered individuals and of course he has his good-hearted sidekick who is coincidentally named Robin. In lieu of getting a some dark, socio-political themes, which I was expecting, the screenplay by Mattson Tomlin (also the writer for the new Batman film) goes down more of the typical superhero entertainment route that pays homage to various comic boom super heroes from Johnny Storm to the incredible Hulk.
Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman with Michael Simmonds (DOP) have done really well with this project creating some gorgeous scenes and smooth action sequences – at least until it all becomes a CGI slugfest. From a technical standpoint – the film is gorgeous. There’s some neat choreography with thumping sound effects that really allow you to immerse yourself into the film. The bright colours of the sets and the breathtakingly realistic visuals when someone grows bones out of his body simply add the film. But even with all this, you just cannot get over the clichés that have been crammed in, which cause to lose interest at times.
The three performances by Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Dominique Fishback are what save the film. Jamie Foxx, possibly the most talented man in the world, gives a solid performance as always. There are very few actors that can be as versatile as him, bringing their same level of performance to every genre. Joseph Gordon Levitt too does what he always does, he’s absolutely amazing every time I see him on screen. But it’s Dominique Fishback who was actually the standout for me in the film.
All in all, “Project Power” never revs up enough but takes comic book clichés and adds it to a gritty co-thriller with some stylish visuals that will make for a good movie-night and honestly, that’s what it’s all about. Yes, it has a few negatives and a lot of clichés but the action sequences (especially Joseph Gordon Levitt’s Bank chase scene), the sound effects, visuals and performances will ensure you have a great time. The film appears to be trying to critique the superhero culture but yet undermines it in the same light. The film doesn’t match up to Netflix’s recent action film releases (barring “The Last Days of American Crime”) like “Extraction” and “The Old Guard” but it is definitely an enjoyable watch.
– Aryamaan Dholakia
Aryamaan’s Score – 66/100 Aman’s Score –