Netflix brings us a different kind of superhero tale in their latest film, Project Power. Directed by filmmaking duo Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman, Project Power follows an unlikely triumvirate of heroes seeking to take down Teleios, a shady government organization responsible for the creation of a new drug called Power. This pill can either give its users a bespoke, DNA-based superpower for five minutes. Robin (Dominique Fishback) is an aspiring rapper and Power dealer. One of her customers is New Orleans cop, Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who, in return, protects her from rival dealers on the streets.
Frank has the mindset that since the city is getting out of control with criminals using Power that the police need to level the playing field. Meanwhile, ex-Special Forces troop Art (Jamie Foxx) has made his way to “The Big Easy” in search of his kidnapped daughter, due to Art’s mysterious connection to the drug. Naturally, Art, Frank, and Robin eventually cross paths to take on local drug lord Biggie (Rodrigo Santoro), who has his oven devious plans for the drug.
In addition to the cast, the trailer and concept for Project Power piqued my interest. First-time screenwriter Mattson Tomlin mashes together numerous film genres for Project Power. Tomlin describes his debut as 8 Mile meets Collateral mixed with a superhero origin movie, and it shows. What I enjoyed most about the script was that Tomlin’s screenplay is that he keeps the superpower aspect in spurts. The easy route would’ve been to just go all out for some cool special effects; instead, the superpowers come in small doses. Also, I love that he gave each of our primary protagonist’s characters a stable arc.
In Jamie Foxx’s character of Art, we have a man determined to find his daughter by any means who is also able to get through to Robin. On the flip side, in Frank’s role, Joseph Gordon-Levitt brings a subdued nuance to his role as a cop, looking to stay honest and do the right thing. Finally, newcomer Dominique Fishback has a breakthrough as Robin, a talented rapper who thinks her current situation has to define her future.
The direction of the film by Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman was also impressive. Since their 2010 debut Catfish and their work on the third and fourth entries in the Paranormal Activity franchise, Joost & Schulman have continued to grow as directors. With Project Power, Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman keep the action coming and pacing quickly. Working with legendary fight coordinator Cory Demeyers, we get some quality fight scenes that allow both Foxx and Gordon-Levitt to show off their athleticism.
Project Power is generally a fun Friday night watch; however, I had some minor issues with the film. Talented actor Courtney B. Vance is given a throwaway with maybe five minutes of screen time. While rapper Machine Gun Kelly whose has worked with Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman in the past, is merely here for stunt casting. Both men deserve better than what the film gives them, and personally, I wouldn’t have cast known names in the roles. Also, Rodrigo Santoro gives a by the numbers performance as our antagonist. . In all honesty, I would’ve loved to see Vance as our bad guy.
Nevertheless, with impressive acting, cool action effects, and possibility of a sequel, Project Power is worth the watch.
Final Grade B
Project Power is available to stream at https://www.netflix.com/projectpower