In a world where taking a pill can grant you 5 minutes of superpowers, fighting crime has never been more difficult to do. Frank (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has resorted to working with a local drug dealer and aspiring rapper Robin (played by Dominique Fishback) to level the playing field. But when an ex-soldier Art (played by Jamie Foxx) comes to New Orleans to find his missing daughter, these three must team up to discover the hidden secrets behind this superhero pill.
As an elevator pitch, this really seems like a producer’s wet dream. There’s the superhero aspect that is always profitable (when done correctly or not) as well as name talent with Foxx and Gordon-Levitt being attached, it would seem like a slam dunk. While Netflix continues to invest billions into its films and is working to distance itself from the “It’s a Netflix film” negative connotations, ‘Project Power’ is an empty attempt at enticing superhero fans and winds up leaving no lasting mark on the genre.
I mean it when I say I like this premise, it’s just that the directors and writers decided to not focus on any of the fun aspects of it. You expect to see more creativity to the so-called “powers” to be able to rise above the competitive landscape of films in this genre. Instead, it’s a copy-paste of any X-Men film but take out the motivations, the characters, and the entertainment value. Forced cameos from YouTube stars are painfully obvious, like opening the film with Machine Gun Kelley. The acting by Jamie Foxx and JGL is fine, they both pull off their characters albeit round the 2-dimensional arcs out more than what they could be with another star. The stand-out performance for me comes from Dominique Fishback, who could’ve been the heart of the film had they expanded her character to more than just “the Robin to Jamie Foxx’s Batman”. Her love of rap is barely focused on and could’ve been fleshed out in the end instead of focusing on Foxx’s stale arc of a father looking for his daughter.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character has no backstory, and only serves the base purpose of being likable and on the side of the law. Every character feels like they are from their own film but forced into this superhero narrative that isn’t explored enough to justify it being there. Films like “Limitless” with Bradley Cooper do a better job of showing the world-building and consequences of the object in question, a pill that enhances abilities. Yes, there is you’re ‘John Wick’ style of lighting, some decent fight choreography, and when the effects are in play for the superheroes they don’t appear to be like a Playstation 3 cutaway. But this is all things you’d expect from a titan like Netflix, but it cannot save the shallow storytelling from watering down the quality of the film significantly.
Overall, I didn’t have a great time with this. It feels long, there’s not a lot to cling to that’s exploratory or adds to the genre. It’s got great actors in it but overall what they are chewing on as far as the story goes is bland, and forgettable.
I’m giving ‘Project Power’ a 5/10
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