by Kyle Arango
The superhero craze in the entertainment industry has dominated the medium since 2008. When Iron Man and The Dark Knight came out in the same year, everything changed, and the industry hasn’t been the same since. Now, creators are trying to come up with new ways to be in that superhero realm but put a different twist on it. Think of things such as The Boys or Kick-Ass. Now Project Power is the latest attempt by Netflix to dive into this genre. How will their results fair? Not very good. While it is an interesting idea and noble attempt, too much extra stuff gets in the way of what could’ve been a fascinating film.
Project Power follows a world where a new drug is on the market that allows those who take it to have superpowers for five minutes. There is no saying what superpower you will get; everyone’s body reacts differently. A dealer of this product gets mixed up with a former cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and a veteran (Jamie Foxx) to take down those dealing and get the drugs out of New Orleans before they spread worldwide. As I said earlier, this is a really cool concept for a superhero type story. Nobody here is really the hero, they are just trying to fix the wrongs done. Of course, the only people buying this product are criminals and what happens when you give criminals powers for 5 minutes? Chaos. I just wish they would’ve done more with that concept. We see one crime being pulled off with powers, but it never becomes super important. It is just a vehicle used to introduce us to Joseph Gordon-Levitt and they just leave it alone after. This entire film just feels like a wasted opportunity to create this wide new world where they instead focus on a tired story of a father trying to save his daughter.
The biggest problem with Project Power by far is the directors. Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman are known best for their work on Catfish the television show and their previous film Nerve. I was so disgusted by Nerve for its insisting on being a millennial fluff fest. Basically meaning, this film is way over-stylized, just like their last. It is full of bright neon lights, obscure angles, and quick shifts that don’t flow well together and just make you angry. You really cannot tell what is going on, especially since they insist on most of his movie taking place at night. It just comes across as filmmakers fresh out of school who learned all this knowledge and decided they wanted to throw in everything they learned all at once. The flashiness is because they want to seem cool and instead it is just annoying. It’s a shame because with a talented cast and good concept, it all just falls flat.
What really is the biggest shame is how much this cast puts into this only for it to result to nothing. Jamie Foxx, I feel like is one of the most underappreciated actors out there. He is immensely talented and never gets the roles anymore that allow him to get serious. In this film, he moves mountains to make his character interesting, and it works. He is someone you want to believe whenever he says something and root for in his journey to save his daughter. The ending is not setup and very strange, but Foxx does his best to offset that. Speaking of underappreciated actors, we also gave Joseph Gordon-Levitt in this film. I missed this man’s work that past couple years he has took a break and now that he’s back, I couldn’t be happier. Problem with this film is that this is just not the character for him. JGL is super likable as a person so making him this tough guy cop who “doesn’t play by the rules” doesn’t work. It is not his character. It just makes me hate the character and JGL which is a recipe for disaster. Elsewhere there isn’t much to run home about. Dominique gets moments to show us her talent, but in the end she is underutilized. Just a waste all around.
So, while Project Power is a smart idea for a concept and a noble attempt to do something different with the superhero genre, it just doesn’t know what to do with the ball in its hands. It takes the ball and tries to jump into the sky instead of running towards the finish. It wastes a talented cast because the directors decide to focus on style over substance. Chalk it up to another miss by Netflix.