by Ian Morton
‘Project Power’ threatens to disrupt the traditional superhero narrative with some impressive performances and a better than expected visual style. While it may let itself let down with some tonal issues and a very unimaginative script, there are far more positives to take away from this latest offering from Netflix than many of the other streaming giant’s recent releases.
Unlike most other stories within the genre, Project Power takes the idea of the hero and wraps it up in the drug trade, with a single pill unlocking each individuals’ super potential for 5 minutes at a time.
Once the drug becomes available on the streets, so then does the lives of our 3 antagonists collide; Robin, a high schooler that happens to deal ‘power’ in order to help out her ill mother, Frank, a grizzly cop looking to even the playing field between good guys and bad guys and ‘The Major’, a mysterious figure on the hunt to find his daughter.
If any of this sounds familiar, it’s probably because it is. Arguably letting the film down the most is its inability to hide its stitches as it brings together characters and plot points from some of the most liked and well known drug-centered films in the last 20 years. Films like Training Day and Man on Fire provide the plot while John Wick and Taken, the character motives, back story and action set pieces. It’s this melding of ideas that make the film somewhat uninspired and is largely responsible for the film’s notable changes in tone.
That’s not to say that these plot issues are a complete deal-breaker however. The film is shot remarkably well given its intent to be shown on the small screen. From its primary reveal showcasing a man completely engulfed in flames through to the stunning ‘Pistol shrimp’ finale, the film has a ball showcasing each individual power. One particularly inventive scene in an underground nightclub is an all round treat, layering impressive camera skills with well crafted CGI. The result being that while the film may be ultimately predictable, it’s a very pretty predictable.
What probably makes the film however is the sheer chemistry and camaraderie between the cast. Jamie Foxx plays ‘The Major’, an ex-soldier with a particular set of skills, putting a solid effort into the heavy handed anti-hero and doing his best to side step some of the clunkier dialogue. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is fun as the cop with a chip on his shoulder while newcomer Dominique Fishback is the star of the show, carrying some of the more heftier scenes with ease. As the characters pair off, their instinctive relationships with one another are fun for the audience to both be around and connect with, giving far more of themselves to the story than the plot really has any right to demand.
Although the film is a bit of a mishmash, I definitely enjoyed the film far more than I thought I was going to. The film benefits from being a sum of its parts and whilst there are undeniable issues with a derivative plot, there’s a lot more positive things going on that allow you to forgive its shortcomings. It might not be the most powerful project about superheroes, but it’s a valiant effort at attempting to do something a little different with the genre.
Project Power is available right now on #Netflix
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