Review: Project Power – Intriguing Superhero Premise That Fails To Fly

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Jamie Foxx thrills in Netflix's recent superhero hit, yet its impact doesn't quite match up to the wealth of talent on display.

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From its star-studded lineup to its brilliantly intriguing premise, Project Power promised great things, yet upon its release just earlier this month failed to match up to its full potential. However, the superhero drama-comedy, in which the incredible Jamie Foxx stars as leading man Art, still provides much needed entertainment in these difficult times through the form of witty lines and (possibly excessive) special effects.

Set amongst the gritty landscape of the streets of a futuristic New Orleans, it explores the drastic impact of a mysterious drug known throughout the film as ‘Power’ on the city’s inhabitants. Power appears exciting from an outside perspective as it offers everyday people an unusual chance to become superheroes, the only catch being that the powers they are given only last for five minutes. The streets of New Orleans are seen to be filled with ‘users’ of the drug who rely on it to a dangerous extent just so they can get their quick fix of powers ranging from super-strength to self-immolation.

Although the ever-so-talented Jamie Foxx captivates you with his subtly strong performance and Joseph Gordon-Levitt provides emotion in his deep depiction of local cop Frank, it’s newcomer Dominique Fishback who truly stands proud as a potential future talent. Fishback wows in the secondary role of Robin, a young college student turned small-time inner-city drug dealer, through her seamless blending of the character’s juxtaposing naivety and intelligence. As the narrative progresses, Robin joins forces with Art and Frank to help bring down the criminal drug lords who created Power in the first place and through this journey, learns of the struggles many have faced at the hands of Power as well as those who control the city.

With such a brilliant premise, it’s such a shame that Project Power doesn’t meet the expectations placed upon it from the bombastic trailer. Throughout its 114 minutes runtime, it’s clear that incredible characters open up the potential for an exploration of the impact of both power, greed, and drugs on the individual. However, it chooses generic storylines and conventions in priority of quirkiness and intrigue; both wit and talent are what keeps you engaged to the narrative’s extent.

Project Power borrows from the sci-fi films like Blade Runner and The Matrix, but then appears to throw in a few special effects intermittently that feels unnecessary as well as drawing away from any potential social commentary. Whereas Foxx, Gordon-Levitt, and Fishback shine, the rest falls short of meaning and allows gaps to form where comedy and emotion are replaced by blockbuster-scale explosions. It inevitably culminates in an entertaining but inadequate outcome for Netflix that fails to fly.

Project Power, directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, is available to stream now via Netflix.

 

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third-year film student & records/live exec 20/21

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