Review: Drugs Are Bad, But ‘Project Power’ Is Good, Mmkay?

On the streets of New Orleans, word begins to spread about a mysterious new pill that unlocks superpowers unique to each user. The catch: You don’t know what will happen until you take it. While some develop bulletproof skin, invisibility, and super strength, others exhibit a deadlier reaction. But when the pill escalates crime within the city to dangerous levels, a local cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) teams with a teenage dealer (Dominique Fishback) and a former soldier fueled by a secret vendetta (Jamie Foxx) to fight power with power and risk taking the pill in order to track down and stop the group responsible for creating it.

Project Power Trailer:

Project Power Movie Review:

The Good:

Project Power‘s strongest asset is going to be in the original concept centered on the drug that gives people superhero powers. The cool thing here is that approach taken here isn’t some ridiculous idea that seems too far fetched. While it is still science fiction, the explanation behind the drug has an interesting grounding that doesn’t make these superpowers feel cheap or straight out of a comic book.

PROJECT POWER (L to R) COURTNEY B. VANCE as CAPTAIN CRAINE, Director ARIEL SCHULMAN, JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT as FRANK and Director HENRY JOOST on the set of PROJECT POWER Cr. SKIP BOLEN/NETFLIX © 2020

Due to these powers, Project Power offers a number of visually stunning action sequences. The third act of the movie really turns it up a notch in terms of the powers and abilities that are on display. The biggest power (and you’ll know it when you see it) is shot incredibly well given the cinematography and special effects used. Adding the slow motion effects and unique camera shots elevate the scene into a real sight to see. For a good chunk of the film, it almost felt like the X-Men were going to come running through the door at any given moment.

PROJECT POWER (L-R) JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT as FRANK in PROJECT POWER Cr. SKIP BOLEN/NETFLIX © 2020

One thing I did appreciate about Project Power is how it was able to bring a sensible balance with its themes and messages. There are some obvious one-liners here and there that will deliver certain quips. For example, with the setting being New Orleans, you’ll hear a line that says something like “Remember the last time the government tried to help New Orleans?” (I’m paraphrasing). It would be easy for this film to continue driving stinging points like that home, but it chooses to tread a fine line of being an action movie without constantly preaching  at its audience.

PROJECT POWER (L to R) DOMINIQUE FISHBACK as ROBIN in PROJECT POWER Cr. SKIP BOLEN/NETFLIX © 2020

Lastly, the acting in this film was solid on all fronts. Jamie Foxx gave a nice performance that was expected from the Oscar award winning actor. This film and role was a complete cakewalk for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Matter of fact, I think he may have been over qualified given his specific role. The one role that stood out more was probably Dominique Fishback as “Robin”. Next to Foxx, her character had much more to work with so Fishback stepped in nicely and delivered an effective performance.

The Bad:

PROJECT POWER (L to R) RODRIGO SANTORO as BIGGIE in PROJECT POWER Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020

Project Power really doesn’t have any major faults that come to mind except for being a bit under developed in different areas. The film spends a lot of time switching its attention to various things that make it difficult to become fully invested in a specific character or situation. For example, the villain(s) aren’t really fleshed out and they’re forgettable. You’ve got potential conspiracies and/or shadow organizations doing this or that shady thing, but that really doesn’t go anywhere. There just wasn’t enough time to become more invested in the story because our attention gets shifted to other mini stories happening all at once.  So despite any wins or losses the main characters may have, the payoff  of the ending didn’t feel that satisfying.

The Verdict:

PROJECT POWER (L to R) JAMIE FOXX as ART in PROJECT POWER Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020

Project Power brings the superpower genre back down to Earth while still delivering entertaining action. What’s great about this film is that it exists in this weird film limbo where it can either be a film one could write some socially relevant think-pieces about or it can simply be the popcorn flick you can sit back and enjoy.  I think the latter is what most people will take from this film and that’s totally fine. I get the sense that Project Power will be a hit following directly in the same footsteps of other popular Netflix films such as Extraction and The Old Guard. It’ll probably have a nice run at being #1 on Netflix for the next few weeks before the hype dies down. Either way, it’ll still be worth the watch so be sure to check it out on Netflix.

Director: Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman
Writer: Mattson Tomlin
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dominique
Fishback, Rodrigo Santoro, Colson Baker, Allen
Maldonado, with Amy Landecker, and Courtney B. Vance

Project Power is available on Netflix August 14, 2020. Be sure to follow E-Man’s Movie Reviews on Facebook, Subscribe on YouTube, or follow me on Twitter/IG @EmansReviews for even more movie news and reviews!

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  • 7/10
    Acting - 7/10
  • 6.5/10
    Cinematography - 6.5/10
  • 6.5/10
    Plot/Screenplay - 6.5/10
  • 7/10
    Setting/Theme - 7/10
  • 8/10
    Buyability - 8/10
  • 7/10
    Recyclability - 7/10
7/10
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About Emmanuel "E-Man" Noisette

Emmanuel is a Chicago film critic who founded Eman's Movie Reviews. He freelances as a writer and video content creator for sites such as MovieTickets.com. Be sure to join the other 33K+ fans on his Facebook Fan Page for even more movie opinions and fun. Feel free to contact him with any professional inquiries: [email protected]

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