Project Power

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Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in Project Power.
Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in Project Power.
Photo: Skip Bolen/Netflix


Project Power




2/5 Stars


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 teams up with a teenage dealer and a former soldier fueled by a secret vendetta to fight power with power and risk taking the pill in order to track down and stop the group responsible for creating it.


Life's okay when you have low expectations for a film and it bombs, but it's quite awful when it doesn't live up to high expectations.

I was pretty pumped the first time I saw the trailer for Project Power – a fascinating concept, Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt kicking ass and all in a gangster-style superhero genre. What's not to love?

Unfortunately, I haven't felt so meh about a film in a while now. Netflix generally churns out so much content that you'll definitely have more misses than hits, but I really thought Project Power was going to be one of their big hits.

A drug that gives people superpowers for five minutes, tearing up a city and its police force, all while one man tries to find the source of the drug's power. It's unique, it's gritty and they have a good mix of well-known names with a fresh face that can rap your socks off. But it all just fell flat.

It's hard to pinpoint what went wrong. It had all the ingredients to make it work, but all I could think about throughout the movie was how bored I was. I really wanted to just switch off and watch something else – a weird one for me when I have a high tolerance for bad movies.

It didn't have any great comedic zingers, they just threw the audience right into it without any real build-up or exposition and sped past the main characters without exploring their motivations and emotional development. They had amazing actors – with great potential in Dominique Fishback – who weren't used to the best of their abilities, and the audience wasn't given any opportunity to connect with them.

Fishback had some mad rap talent and, at one point, I would have rather watched a film about her rising to the top of the music industry than continue with the banality of Project Power.

You wonder if it might have been the writing that was problematic, but it's important to note there was a bidding war for the story, so it must have looked really good on paper. And it does. It would be difficult to imagine anyone saying no to this in a pitch meeting.

But I think they just didn't go big enough with it. It needed some world-building, perhaps by showing how people reacted the first day the drug hit the streets, how it wiped out police precincts and even political debates over the government response to it. Contextualising that within the emotional burdens of the main characters might have actually made you care more, and I wonder how much might have actually gotten cut from the original version.

Perhaps the directors and/or studios were also mainly at fault. It was helmed by the Catfish duo Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. While they have gone on to direct other feature films beyond their influential documentary, I don't think they had the required passion for this particular story. The studio just threw money at it, knowing full well people will watch anything on Netflix and it doesn't matter whether it's good or not.

You might like Project Power – especially if you go in without high expectations – but I don't think it has the power to wow anyone. It had so much going for it, and it's a little upsetting that it was wasted in the churning of the giant Netflix machine. That makes it worse than any bad movie where you know what you're getting yourself into.


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