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Project Power review: Is the Netflix movie a drug worth taking?

Jamie Foxx as Art in Project Power. Pic credit: Skip Bolen/Netflix

It’s been quite a while since viewers were blessed with a superhero flick. The recent events with coronavirus have caused significant delays with major films from Marvel as well as DC.

Now, Netflix is here to maybe fill the empty space we have been craving for so long with Project Power – an action superpowered flick about a drug that gives a person powers for five minutes.

That said, does Project Power satisfy the cravings we all have in these desperate times for superhero movies? Is this another great action movie on Netflix?

Here is our Project Power review and whether it’s worth a stream.

Project Power: Is Netflix movie worth watching or not?

Project Power centers on three different characters in the city of New Orleans. A young teenage drug dealer named Robin (Dominique Fishback) who is making ends meet by selling the power drug to others, a New Orleans cop named Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who uses the drug in the field of duty, and Art (Jamie Foxx) – a man on the hunt for his daughter in the midst of a drug war in New Orleans.

The film is also directed by the team who gave us the movie and hit television show Catfish – Nev Schulman and Henry Joost.

The movie has some decent things going for it. Jamie Foxx is the best part of the film and gives the movie a strong charismatic presence every time he hits the screen. Foxx even has solid chemistry with Dominique Fishback and they share a few charming scenes together.

Some of the action sequences are visually impressive as well. The best kind of action makes one wonder how it was accomplished. One scene has Jamie Foxx fighting a man immersed in a fire that looked like a mixture of practical as well as CGI. And the practical is visually impressive and hard to imagine how they pulled the sequence off.

Despite a few cringeworthy moments of special effects, when the action is good, it’s really good.

This being said, Project Power tries to be a throwback action movie – and sadly, to the wrong decade.

Jamie Foxx as Art and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Frank in Project Power
Jamie Foxx as Art and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Frank in Project Power. Pic credit: Skip Bolen/Netflix

The 2000s had a string of forgettable action movies that all followed a simple formula. Character A, Character B, and Character C (sometimes just two) get thrown in a conflict. Character A, B. and C somehow cross paths briefly and realize they are fighting the same battle. Insert a generic bad guy with no real back story or clear motivations – besides bad person does bad things.

And then, all of the characters act like they have known each other for decades after one day as they overcome a bad villain by the end of the story.

Some films from the late ’90s-2000s managed to pull it off with great actors elevating the material, but the bad ones were terrible. Movies like Chill Factor, Cradle to the Grave, I: Spy, etc were mediocre at best.

Project Power suffers from a lot of the same issues as a lot of those movies. It does not take any time for us to get a sense of the world or even flesh out the characters.

The film is built around the premise that a drug is somehow infecting the streets of New Orleans but there’s no time to show the environmental change because we are immediately thrown into one mindless set piece after the next.

Domonique Flashback as Robin in Project Power.
Dominique Fishback as Robin in Project Power. Pic credit: Skip Bolen/Netflix

This is a shame because the concept has a lot of potential. The idea that citizens of New Orleans are purposely being forced into drugs has a lot of thematic promise that could have gone far. Here though, it’s not used to its full advantage.

This also hinders the action because the stakes feel non-existent since viewers have little time to get to know the characters. And this is extremely clear with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s role, which could have been removed from the film entirely and the movie would not change.

Luckily, the movie allows Jamie Foxx’s role as Art some room to explore. He is the one thing that will make Project Power entertaining for some viewers as he is given the most space to become a person.

And if the story had been about him doing a Man on Fire and hunting down everyone in his path to find his daughter in the middle of a superhero backdrop, Project Power might have been great. Sadly, the script gets in the way of itself with too much extra.

Overall Thoughts

Project Power is in no way a terrible movie, it’s just a disappointing one. The movie itself makes a lot of mistakes that a lot of action films suffered from in the late ’90s and ’00s.

These mistakes include generic villains and poorly developed characters. This is especially prevalent with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is just basically a cop with gun. And this is coming from someone who loves Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

And while it may not be memorable, the film does have some qualities that redeem it. There are some really good action scenes that utilize decent mixtures of practical and visual effects. Also, Jamie Foxx helps make the film more entertaining.

Overall, it’s an acceptable distraction when seeking something to watch this weekend but the conversation around Project Power will last as long as the drug itself.

Project Power is now streaming on Netflix.

John Dotson is a film and television reviewer and commentator from Texas. His favorite part of what he does is getting to discuss film and... read more
John Dotson

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