‘Project Power’ holds back its true potential

By Patrick Brady

Staff Writer

“Project Power” is an action, sci-fi film directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. Both directors previously collaborated on other films, such as “Paranormal Activity 3,” “Catfish,” and “Nerve.” 

The film features Jamie Foxx as Art and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Frank Shaver.

Although it was bloody and brutal at moments, the film never had a violent, gritty feel to it.

The pacing was also muddled at times, but Foxx and Gordon-Levitt attempted to carry the film through its rough patches.

Robin, a dealer played by Dominique Fishback, is almost robbed by a group of thugs who seek “Power” – a pill that, if taken, grants people superpowers for five minutes. But before anything can escalate, Shaver – a police officer, who is also one of Robin’s buyers – breaks up the fight.

Quickly thereafter, Robin is abducted by Art, who forces her to take him to her dealer’s safe house. After things get out of hand and shots are fired, Art bonds with Robin. They agree to work together in order to find the person who is distributing the pills.

What makes this film different from a typical superhero film is how the pill often isn’t used for doing good. In fact, almost everyone who takes the drug in the film has bad intentions. “Project Power’s” main premise revolves around how if people take the pill, they can live like a superhero for 5 minutes, even with the risk of death.

Although the film starts off somewhat strong, it quickly dives into mediocrity after Foxx’s first fight scene. From then on, the dialogue becomes cheesy and the intensity fades with the revival of Netflix’s great weakness in their action films – cringe-inducing scenes that are unnecessary and don’t progress the plot.

The film itself is way too quick, and should have had a few more scenes of exposition or – at the very least – a few more high-intensity action sequences. And while the action scenes were somewhat intense, they felt repetitive.

Along with terrible exposition and sub-par action sequences, the film relied way too heavily on CGI. But nonetheless, Netflix did try – but failed to hide – the CGI through the usage of color correction.

The action in the film was repeatedly bogged down by cheap-looking CGI with elaborate, but useless, set pieces. And even though the set pieces were clearly of high-budget production value, they were never really used until the final 20 minutes.

Most importantly though, the film was quite boring throughout a majority of the second half and didn’t hold my attention for very long. Instead of being the action-packed film it had promised, it relied heavily on exposition spoken between Art and Robin – and not the exciting kind. It’s almost as if the film’s screenplay writer wanted to establish a highly intricate character bond before closing with the grand finale.

Despite the negative aspects of the film, “Project Power” does have some redeeming qualities to it. For one, Foxx and Gordon-Levitt delivered their lines almost flawlessly, and their conversations never lacked any substance.

Along with the acting, the grand finale of the film was a spectacle to behold. Not only did it take full advantage of “Power’s” central storyline, but looked great as well. The colors were vibrant, the action was consistent, and it barely ever stalled.

Compared to other Netflix originals, such as “Triple Frontier” or “6 Underground,” “Project Power” was very enjoyable.

But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t flawed.

A reason why “Project Power” was disappointing was due to its promotional material, which hyped up the film way too much. Furthermore, the trailers were misleading, since they didn’t touch upon the film’s premise. Although advertised as a superhero flick, most of the movie revolves around Robin and Art’s attempt to take down a drug lord who sells the pills.

“Project Power” has an intriguing premise, but sadly, never takes full advantage of it. Although the acting was fine, Foxx and Gordon-Levitt were not able to save the mediocre script. But at this point, do expect a sequel, since it topped Netflix’s charts when it was first released.

There is not much “Power” left in Netflix original films.