Movie Review: Project Power (2020)

From director duo Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost (Paranormal Activity 3 and 4, Nerve) is the superhero action film, Project Power, released onto Netflix in 2020. Robin (Dominique Fishback) is a young dealer of the drug Power, which grants the user a random superpower for five minutes, ranging from super strength to temperature control, with a risk of immediate death. Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a police officer investigating the underground use of Power who has a working relationship with Robin, while Art (Jamie Foxx), a former soldier, is on his own search for the mysterious drug distributor Biggie (Rodrigo Santoro), who also has a connection to Art’s past.

+ Rodrigo Santoro (Lost, Westworld, 300) has a minor role as one of the movie villains, and frankly he was the only actor I cared for. I’d go so far as to say he’s underrated in the movie and TV world today
+ the few powers we do see on screen, whilst most are horribly underutilised, are pretty cool. Whether it’s bulletproof skin or control of the elements (“Like Frozen” as said in the film) they were fun to see. I just wanted to see them more

projectpower_2
Unlikely allies: Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Robin (Domonique Fishback) and Art (Jamie Foxx)

– I’m generally a fan of Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but neither of them showed me anything to hype up here. I can’t say I had heard of Fishback prior to seeing this, at least by name, and she also was just another random bit player in the lacklustre story
– at a few points, we are told about various powers, but only see a small handful. One particularly egregious example occurs at the film’s climax, where a “clever” filming technique is basically an excuse to just not show the action. I imagine it was a budget issue, but why not have a short ‘underground fight club’ scene where various participants have various fun powers
– the idea of superhero powers as a negative/not all they’re hyped up to be was done better in Code 8 (and even the disastrous 2015 Fantastic Four movie), and the idea of “race relations” between powered/non-powered instead of black/white was done better in Bright, which was human/non-human. A few thinly veiled jabs are taken at the results of Hurricane Katrina and the aid (or lack thereof) some parts of the state were given, but it’s left as a subtle ‘gotcha’ line, rather than anything significant
– I like most rap or hip-hop, especially as movie backgrounds noise, but every song here just made me cringe. Whether it’s “singing” (read: poorly pronounced mumbles) about all the drugs they sling, or the hoes they own, or the cars they drive, I just lost all interest until the awful attempt at “music” stopped

Should you see this film: No. This was a failure as a superhero movie, a failure as a deep-dive into race relations, and most importantly, a failure as a fun movie.

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