Movie Review: PROJECT POWER Starring Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dominique Fishback
Project Power, directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, dropped this weekend on Netflix.
The premise seems to be a new take that pulls on a familiar thread. A drug, called Power, is being distributed throughout New Orleans, giving users a five-minute high where they will develop a special ability – such as super strength, invisibility, pyrokinesis; just to name a few. Once taken, the user will develop that same power, chosen at random upon first using, each and every time they take a pill. (Think Limitless meets Push.) The catch; it can be fatal. While the occupants of New Orleans are the ‘test subjects’ of the drug, a street cop (Gordon-Levitt,) and ex-soldier (Foxx,) and a teenage street pusher (Fishback,) must work together to stop the company responsible for developing the dangerous concoction before it can be sold and weaponized.
The film isn’t the first time Joost and Schulman have paired up, as the duo have co-directed other films including Nerve, Viral, and the 3rd and 4th installments of the Paranormal Activity franchise.
To be honest, I’m not quite sure if this film was slated to be released theatrically or not, due to the current Pandemic, as many features are being sold to streaming services for distribution. I do know that with many major releases being postponed, households are using more and more streaming services and subscription rates have drastically increased. Netflix previously released The Lovebirds, which was slated for a theatrical release this previous spring and is also in the final negotiations of the rights to release the highly anticipated thriller, The Woman in the Window. With major studios selling to multiple platforms, it seems that each service is striving to deliver new, edgy, as well as cinematic content to audiences straight to the comfort of their own homes.
While this film was enjoyable, it didn’t pack the punch I was hoping for. When I saw the trailer, and that Foxx and Gordon-Levitt were attached, I was all in. However, the film had a lot of lackluster moments that left me feeling quite unsatisfied. While the performances from the leads were enjoyable, there wasn’t anything that made the story standout. It’s a plot we are familiar with – something dangerous that can be weaponized is being sold off to the highest bidder after a demonstration proves that the product can cause mass destruction. I will say, there were some moments that stood out from the typical trope, such as the pill only last five minutes, adding a much more human element to a sci-fi action movie. The here-and-there laughs also garner a smirk every so often showing attempts from the writing team, but the film’s shortcomings really work against it.
It might have been because I had a higher standard for the release, as I found Netflix’s last big film, The Old Guard, to be quite impressive, enough so that it even encouraged me to check out the literature existing as the bones for the storyline. (Some of the other writers on the site weren’t as impressed with this one as I was, but to each to their own.) Trying to set a bias speculation aside, I can at least say the film kept my attention for two hours and managed to discourage me from looking at my phone during the duration of the flick. It’s a fun film, but with some polishing and little more work to the story, I think Project Power could have been in a different league. But, if you feel like being the judge of that yourself, I encourage to check out the film available now for streaming exclusively through Netflix.