The new Netflix original movie Project Power is a flashy action flick that has familiar components. The sci-fi elements combined with some sensible sentiments, this movie directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman is engaging for the viewer. But like I said, we are familiar with this kind of story arch and that does reduce the surprise pretty much and the stylized showdown one gets to see isn’t enough to cover up that aspect of the script.
The story is set in New Orleans. A ship arrives there and offers an attractive deal to the drug dealers to sell a “Power” pill. It is a pill that will give you superpowers for a limited amount of time. Robin, the cousin of one of those drug dealers and also a dealer, gets abducted by a stranger (Art Reilly) who was looking for the suppliers of the pill. Robin’s friend and NOPD officer Frank Shaver decide to save her from Art. Who Art really is and what’s the connection between him and the Power Pills is what Project Power showing us.
It is actually the aggressive fast-paced narrative and the visual appeal that makes Project Power feel like a breezy entertainer. The father figure talks Art has with Robin and the way he appreciates her ability to Rap, sort of adds an emotional layer to the story. But like I said, the story here doesn’t have anything unique to offer. The script isn’t even an intricate one. What we can predict about the storyline in the first fifteen minutes of the film is pretty much what we get to see. But through some set pieces that have brutal fight sequences, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman make the flat story partly entertaining. The equation Robin has with Art and Frank has that likable warmth.
Jamie Foxx gets to play a character that has swagger but is also sensitive. Art is not that typical rough dude who just walks around with a straight face. Joseph Gordon-Levitt on the other hand was playing a role that never really demanded someone like him. The screenplay isn’t offering much space for Frank to be a memorable character. Dominique Fishback as Robin was really nice in the film. Even though Robin isn’t taking the pill at any point, Robin somewhere becomes the driving factor of the movie and she is perhaps the only well-written character in the movie.
Written by Mattson Tomlin, I feel the missing element in the screenplay was its inability to mark characters. Barring Robin and Art, you don’t really get to see a well-written character on screen. When you look at a movie franchise like John Wick, even though it is like a series of back to back brutal set pieces, they do the character-registering part very effectively. Here the bad guys are so one dimensional and forgettable. And because of that, you don’t feel any sort of empathy towards the fight of the characters. The cinematography here has so much of darkness in frames and the way the camera pans at times reminded me of Need for Speed: Most Wanted. Visual effects are on the okay side as I found some of the Power Pill transformations tacky.
Project Power is a fast-paced sci-fi action movie that qualifies to be a passable popcorn flick. Because of the weak writing, we won’t feel like investing in the journey of those characters. Style is there for sure. But the substance here isn’t that impressive.
Project Power is a fast-paced sci-fi action movie that qualifies to be a passable popcorn flick.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended