Project Power is a serviceable action movie but ultimately falls a little flat.
Set in New Orleans in the near future. Project Power follows a drug dealer named Robin, a police officer named Frank and an ex-soldier named Art who are on a mission to stop the distribution of a pill that gives its user unpredictable super-powers for 5 minutes.
The story is a pretty simple one. And given the premise it makes sense. It revolves around a group of people taking on a powerful group bent on causing chaos. It’s one that has been told numerous times and given its premise, I want to see what other stories can be told.
The 3 leads in this movie are very charismatic and play off each other very well. What makes each of their stories interesting is the two separate quests Frank and Art are on and how Robin ends up, right in the middle of that.
Going into this movie, I already knew how talented Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gorden-Levitt were but I didn’t expect Dominique Fishback to be the scene-stealer. I haven’t seen anything that she has been in but I’m definitely going to pay attention because her character is the most relatable and charismatic one. Even though she s the audience proxy, she isn’t weak or naive and is very street smart. And because of that, her character comes across as the most authentic.
Jamie Foxx is a charismatic actor, we all know this and his performance is a more emotional one than I thought. Without giving anything away, he’s not the same character at the end that he was at the beginning. While the growth is incremental, it’s there. He is funny in a way that shows he’s not even trying.
Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character Frank is an interesting one given the moral and ethical situation that he’s in. And it relates to his performance. He has a deep love for his city which comes across in everything that he does. His chemistry with Dominique Fishback feels organic, especially as you get towards the end of the movie. You can see that the two have known each other for a while and have a genuine friendship. I’m very curious as to how their characters met.
Project Power is story-driven meaning that the characters take a backseat to the demands of the story meaning you only learn things about them when the story demands it. This isn’t a bad thing, however, it does mean that the characters end up pretty one -dimensional, which is a shame because there is so much I want to learn about them. If there is a sequel, I hope we get more backstory. The characters start the movie in an interesting place and I would like to know how they got there. Especially Robin and Frank.
Given the story structure, there isn’t a lot of time and space for a layered story. This is one of those movies where what you see is what you get. Again, not a bad thing considering the fact that what you get is a solid story and direction. The directors, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman delivered on a movie that had heart, and comedic moments that make you smile without compromising on the integrity of the scene. However, it also fell a little flat for me in the third act. There are a lot of moving parts and I felt a little detached with what was going on. I will say though, that I liked the ending, it feels like a well-deserved one for the characters.
The CGI in this movie is really good. Every article I’ve seen that talks about it brings up this scene in particular.
This scene looks amazing. I imagine that this is what the Human Torch would look like with today’s CGI. You can still see the character’s features even though you can see the physical changes that the pill-induced. The makeup team also did great work with the prosthetics for Newt (Machine Gun Kelly’s character.) This is what he looked like before he caught fire.
The CGI and prosthetics do a great job of showing both the positive and negative sides of the pill. It’s nice to have a visual aid to accompany what the characters say. Sure, you could end up like the human torch but you could also give yourself and everyone around you third-degree burns.
With each pill, you actually get to see how it affects each person both internally and externally. it adds a nice touch. Another nice touch is the use of practical effects. There is a scene halfway through the film where Frank is shot at point-blank range and I could have sworn it was achieved through VFX but it was done practically and looks great.
The film is set in New Orleans which means we get some gorgeous tracking shots of the city. We also get to see what New Orleans look like 15 years after the hurricane which is referenced in the movie by Robin as well as one of the antagonists.
There isn’t a lot of music in this movie, which is interesting because Robin is a rapper. A lot of the music you hear comes from her either rapping or listening to music. We get two scenes where she gets to showcase her talent and they’re very well done (even though one technically didn’t happen). Both scenes show her in different stages of her growth. She’s a lot more timid in the first one than in the second and you feel her confidence as she goes through the movie.
The score as a whole is fine. It’s there but not as noticeable as with most movies, this could be because the soundtrack plays a more vital role in the movie than the score.
I enjoyed Project Power, it’s a serviceable action movie with a fascinating premise, great visual effects and a cast with chemistry but I can’t help but feel like it was lacking a little. I didn’t watch any of the trailers so I didn’t know what to expect other than the premise and I feel like there could have been… more,
I have no idea what is planned for the sequel or whether there is one in development but I was to see more of the world. Maybe the fallout of the pill and how it affected society as a whole or someone who uses the pill to ultimately become a vigilante. Or at least see the where the characters end up because at the end of the day Robin is a drug dealer, and Art and Frank have done things that are less than commendable. There are so many places that this story could go and I’m curious to see where the story and characters go.
Now the question remains, would you take the pill?
Originally published at https://www.thecinematicaficionado.com on August 27, 2020.