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Project Power 2020 Movie Review Poster Trailer Cast Crew Online
Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Writer: Mattson Tomlin
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dominique Fishback
There’s something so disheartening about a wasted premise. To see a film or series take a great idea and almost willfully turn it into something as generic as Netflix’s “Project Power” somehow hurts more than just seeing a thin concept revealed to not have enough to carry a feature film. In terms of both actual storytelling and subtext, there’s so much that the creators of “Project Power” could have done, but they chose the path of least resistance, turning a story of reclaimed control and buried human strength into a dull action movie that only gets by on the charisma of its stars and speediness of its filmmaking. It’s almost like they were afraid to unleash the power within their own project.
Imagine if there was a drug that could make you a superhero for five minutes. You don’t know what power will be unleashed until you take it the first time. You might burst into flames that don’t hurt you but light everything around you on fire. You might become invincible. You might just explode. Would you try it? What would the power structure of society do with this ability to form instant superheroes (and supervillains), and, more interestingly, what would it do to communities of people who have had power stripped from them over generations?
One place in which power structures were clearly clarified by tragedy is New Orleans, the setting for “Project Power.” Someone is releasing this drug into poor communities still cleaning up from Hurricane Katrina, and it’s leading to total chaos. Take for example the criminal who discovers that taking the drug makes him a high-powered chameleon, someone who can blend into any environment and basically become an invisible bank robber. In arguably the film’s best action scene, an NOPD officer named Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) chases this modern invisible man through the crowded streets as his target blends into everything around him (it’s one of the few times one can see the reported $85 million-dollar budget here). He’s a cop on the edge, not only willing to try the product that’s tearing apart his community but to ignore orders from his superior to get to the top of the supply line. And his Saints jersey shows how much he loves his city. (Gleason, of course.)
As Frank works his way down the drug chain, he crosses paths with Art (Jamie Foxx), someone with a clear personal attachment to the nefarious industry. After the explosive death of a dealer, Art ends up essentially partnering with a girl named Robin (Dominique Fishback) while a villainous figure named Biggie (Rodrigo Santoro) lurks in the background. You see, the drug has been being refined by the Powers That Be in poor communities across the country—a fascinating idea given this nation’s history with health care and experimentation, but writer Mattson Tomlin does just about nothing with it beyond the superficial, turning the villains in “Project Power”—a woefully miscast Amy Landecker shows up to glare in the final act—into classic action archetypes.
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