Outside of awards season, Netflix has a bit of a bad rep when it comes to their Original Films. Project Power is the brand new film of directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, who also made 2016’s ‘Nerve‘, and fits right on the streaming service with its wasted potential. This time they trade the neon-lights for a videogame-esque visual effects heavy sci-fi action film that relies a bit too heavily on Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx‘s star power.
When a pill that gives its users unpredictable superpowers for five minutes hits the streets of New Orleans, a teenage dealer and a local cop must team with an ex-soldier to take down the group responsible for its creation.
Writer Mattson Tomlin came up with a stereotypical and unoriginal but solidly entertaining mystery that seems to be pulled straight out of a comic book. He’s also attached to Matt Reeves’ upcoming ‘The Batman‘, slated for a 2021 release. Let’s hope that film isn’t as much of a tease like ‘Project Power‘, but actually gives us some action and a deeper, more compelling story.
The most fun is to be had in the few action sequences in the film. It seems more so that every person has their own hidden power that gets triggered by the pills they take, and doesn’t really change with every pill they swallow. There’s a scene with a drug dealer, played by Colson Baker (‘The King of Staten Island‘), who bursts into flames and chases Jamie Foxx’s character through an apartment building. Quite a scary sight to behold with some amazing prosthetics and decent VFX. The story keeps hinting at Art’s (Foxx – ‘Just Mercy‘) powers, but when we finally get to witness his secret strength, it’s disappointing to say the least.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (‘7500‘) and especially Foxx give decent performances, although the former seems a bit miscast in the role of rogue cop. Dominique Fishback (‘The Deuce‘) is outstanding as the teenage Robin, even though it felt like some of her scenes were unnecessary in pushing the story forward.
Joost and Schulman are talented directors, but after watching ‘Project Power‘, it seems like they’re undermining their own skills. This duo can do much better, as they have proven in the past. For a film that has been promoted as an action film, they do spend a lot of time talking in stead of doing. It’s also baffling that the cinematographer – Michael Simmonds – created that infamous long take in 2018’s Halloween, but somehow made it seem as if he had lost that talent by being obnoxiously creative with one too many camera angles. Just because you can, doesn’t always mean you should. In a way ‘Project Power‘ reminded me a lot of 2009’s ‘Push‘, in which two people with special abilities have to find a girl before a secret government organisation does.
‘Project Power‘ is a typical Netflix film and definitely worth a watch, even if it’s just for the main trio of actors, the few action sequences in the first half of the movie and one of Joseph Trapanese‘s better scores.
Netflix Review – ‘Project Power’
Reviewed on Netflix, August 18, 2020. Rating: 16+ Running time: 113 min.
PRODUCTION: A Netflix release of a Screen Arcade, Supermarché, Netflix production. Producers: Erik Newman, Bryan Unkeless. Executive producers: Ray Angelic, Scott Morgan, Orlee-Rose Strauss.
CREW: Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman. Screenplay: Mattson Tomlin. Editor: Jeff McEvoy. Cinematography: Michael Simmonds. Music: Joseph Trapanese.
WITH: Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dominique Fishback, Rodrigo Santoro, Courtney B. Vance, Amy Landecker, Colson Baker, Tait Fletcher, Allen Maldonado, Andrene Ward-Hammond.