On August 15th, Netflix’s highly anticipated gritty anti-hero feature, Project Power premiered, landing at number One on the streaming mogul’s Top 10 most watched in the U.S. list! In Project Power, an unlikely team forms between a former soldier, a dedicated Cop, and a teenage drug dealer way in over her head, as the trio collide in a desperate effort to find the source behind a mysterious new drug that has hit the streets of New Orleans, a pill that offers civilians five minutes of unpredictable power.
The sci-fi action film stars Jaime Foxx (Soul) as Ex-Soldier Art, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500 Days of Summer) as local cop Frank, and rising-star Dominique Fishback (The Hate U Give) as anxious teenage dealer Robin.
As always, Jaime Foxx does not disappoint. He is electrifying as the relentless Major Art. At times, he’s terrifying, others he’s heartwarming. He was really exciting to watch on screen. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as rebellious NOPD officer Frank was hilarious and charming. He offered a lot of levity and laughter in the moments needed to light up this frequently dark film. I did find that his arc was the least interesting, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. But the real scene stealer of the film is Dominique Fishback as Robin. She is extremely talented and spunky. She brings heart and nuance to the film. I honestly can’t wait to see what the actress does next.
This dynamic trio has overflowing chemistry and flair to match. They are scrappy and resourceful, often using the environment around them to succeed, with a little help from the pills themselves. I think the film does a good job at making the world and the characters within it feel authentic.
The film is far from perfect but infectiously fun. Gone are the days of campy early 2000s superhero cult classics like Daredevil (2003), Elektra (2005), and Ghost Rider (2007). Project Power feels like a slightly better distant cousin. In the same vein as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, Project Power is comic bookish, vibrant, and fun. The film could’ve used more of a budget. The CGI and special effects contributed to the zany elements of the film, but it managed to stay believable.
The film is very fast-paced, at times almost too fast, but it aptly matches the energy that the film brings and leaves with its audience. It narrowly gets away with it. I love the use of perspective when it comes to technology, camera footage, security recordings in the film. That made sequences interesting to watch, but at times I feel like there are moments when the film trips up on itself, undermining its own moves, and taking two steps forward and two steps back. There’s choppy editing in some places and beautiful precise cuts in others. I love the cutaways and intercuts that show each character’s desires or traumas, but it can appear jarring at the first instance. There are times where the camera work can feel nauseating and distracting, while other shots feel well-directed and set up, offering the scene some source of innovation. Unfortunately, this wasn’t consistent. It was a toss up of good and bad shots and shoddy movements, that leaves the film feeling jumbled and stylistically inconsistent.
The story is set in eclectic New Orleans. One thing I give this film credit for is the vibrant and unique locations within the city. It offers the film atmosphere. The life of the city brings life to the scenes. The people, the set design, and the props, help to integrate us into this gritty world where power is a pill away. Another wonderful aspect that brings the film to life is the soundtrack, specifically the songs expertly written by Chika. She really set the tone for the film and offered a steady heartbeat to Robin’s character.
The film at moments isn’t for the faint of heart. A lot of the powers are disturbing. It really feels like a cautionary tale to those that have an absolute desire for power. I watched through my fingers for a few scenes and cringed at others, but I’m sure you all can take it. The action is dynamic, gritty and raw. Jaime Fox’s Art is unrelenting and brutal in his search for vengeance. The film can get gorey to say the least. There are a few generic moments where fight choreography falls flat, mostly due to interference by editing, but those are overshadowed by inventive and exciting moments within the sequences. Overall, the film packs a punch.
In the end, Project Power is a campy high-octane anti-hero hero film that remains reminiscent of the early days of comic book movies. It’s chock full of Stock villains, witty banter, campy CGI , gritty fight scenes and grotesque powers, that have the ability to change the answers of some of our favorite Would You Rather questions. However entertaining, It doesn’t go without its issues. With a slew of needless shots the film could do with more subdued and concentrated creative choices, a bigger budget for the more innovative sequences, and less use of the word, “power” in the dialogue.
Verdict: 3.7 out of 5
It was a good time and I expect to see a sequel in the future.