14 August 2020 16:35
A new drug called Power has hit the streets of New Orleans — offering the user five minutes of superpowers. Young dealer Robin (Dominique Fishback) is working with cop Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to stop its spread, while the mysterious Art (Jamie Foxx) is on his own hunt for the source of the pill. From the genetic mutation of the X-Men, to the radioactive spider-bite of Spider-Man, to the cosmic blast absorbed by the Fantastic Four, the moment superheroes receive their powers on page or screen tends to be an irrevocable, life-altering event that forever changes their very DNA. Netflix's action-thriller offers an intriguing tweak to the superhero mythos — here, those who take a 'Power' pill are gifted supernatural abilities for just five minutes per hit and they don't know what hidden ability they hold until they take one. Despite finding a fresh angle on one of cinema's most oversaturated genres, Project Power never fully capitalises on that potential.
Like the streaming service's other summer genre exercise The Old Guard, its hooky premise is trapped in a generic plot involving a shadowy organisation led by a cabal of boring baddies. Anchoring the film is Dominique Fishback's dealer Robin, who has a streets-eye view as the Power pill spreads through a vibrant New Orleans setting. Fishback, in what could be her breakout role, lights up the screen — Robin makes for an entertaining and empathetic heroine, a young Black woman trapped by circumstance, and holding her own as she crosses paths with Jamie Foxx's crusading former military man, Art. Foxx's natural charisma remains present as his personal vendetta to find the source of the pill becomes the central through-line of the plot, though the character himself remains largely unmemorable. Gordon-Levitt is most underserved as by-any-means-necessary hero cop Frank, a thin role that already feels out of step with current sentiment towards the police in the wake of the recent BLM protests. Director duo Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost — previously behind the original Catfish documentary (or was it?), two Paranormal Activity sequels and cyber-thriller Nerve — make good use of their signature digital aesthetic, imbuing Project Power with glossy visuals that paper over considerable cracks.
The undercooked plot works just well enough to fuel this vehicle for Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, mashing up old movies in a fast-paced package. Hitting the ground running (and punching and shooting), the story operates on two tracks before they inevitably come together through a teenager, Robin (Dominique Fishback of HBO's "The Deuce"), caught up in both. Essentially, shadowy forces have begun distributing an illicit drug that provides a temporary burst of superpowers in five-minute increments. Gordon-Levitt plays Frank, a New Orleans cop who has begun secretly taking the drug--which he acquires from Robin, who's dealing it--seeking to level the playing field against the sudden onslaught of super-powered criminals. Foxx is The Major, whose motivations for trying to locate the source of the pills--leaving bodies in his wake--remains more personal, if not a whole lot more inventive.
Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (a.k.a. Henry & Rel), the team behind "Catfish" who also directed a pair of "Paranormal Activity" sequels, "Project Power" makes good use of the New Orleans backdrop, and shrewdly taps into the sordid history of the drug war to give the fantastical narrative a sense of relevance. Based on Mattson Tomlin's screenplay, the old-movie inspirations are almost too numerous to mention, although Foxx's character owes a debt to Brian De Palma's "The Fury" as a father forced to put his special skills to use. ACTOR Jamie Foxx has revealed that Stars Wars inspired him to join Netflix's new superhero thriller, Project Power. But before fans get excited thinking there may be some sort of crossover, Project Power is as far removed from the intergalactic franchise as possible. 5 Jamie stars in the new Netflix film, Project Power Credit: Getty Images However, the point Foxx makes is that in order for the show to work the characters need to be as important as the story and be interesting without the "light sabres". 5 Joseph Gordon-Levitt also stars in the film Credit: Splash News 5 The actor revealed he was inspired to join the cast because of Star Wars Credit: Splash News Netflix's upcoming film Project Power sees Jamie Foxx team up with Joseph Gordon-Levitt for a film about what happens when anyone can get superpowers. Set in the not so distant future and takes place on the streets of New Orleans, there is a mysterious new pill which grants its user superpowers. Word begins to spread about a mysterious new pill that unlocks superpowers unique to each user. 5 Users can take a pill and discover their super power Credit: Splash News 5 The thriller lands on Netflix today Credit: Splash News Most read in Showbiz HOLY MOLLIE Corrie's Mollie Gallagher looks very different as she takes break from filming Exclusive BABY BREAK Ed Sheeran's wife Cherry took 'unlimited sabbatical from city job to have baby' Exclusive PRICE TO PAY Katie Price banned from sex for TWO WEEKS after five-hour foot operation SUPER SOAKED Towie girls spark water fight to cool down as they film show in skimpy outfits Exclusive NOT OUR GIRL Our Girl axed after failing to get Jacqueline Jossa to replace Michelle Keegan RUSSELLED FEATHERS Russell Howard storms off stage after audience member caught filming him But when the pill escalates crime within the city to dangerous levels, a local cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) teams with a teenage dealer (Dominique Fishback) and a former soldier fuelled by a secret vendetta (Jamie Foxx) to fight power with power and risk taking the pill in order to track down and stop the group responsible for creating it. Project Power is available to watch now on Netflix. Project Power spoilers follow – and they're pretty major ones, too. If you've been on Netflix at all in the last few days you'll have noticed that the streaming platform has a new film out called Project Power – one that's been teased for a long, long time. It stars Jamie Foxx, Dominique Fishback, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The premise of the film is unique and interesting, especially given the wealth of superhero-like movies we're inundated with. Project Power follows Jamie Foxx's Art as he tries to rescue his daughter Tracy (Kyanna Simone Simpson) from sinister forces behind a newly-developed drug that temporarily gifts its user with superhuman abilities. He has help from two unlikely allies: Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a cop with an undying love of his city – New Orleans – and Robin (Dominique Fishback), a teenage girl with dreams of being a famous rap artist who deals Power, but only to make ends meet. What's most interesting about Project Power's premise is that the pills don't just grant you arbitrary or generic superpowers, they tap into your essence; as a result, some people spontaneously combust upon ingestion. With this end goal of rescuing Tracy, Project Power keeps to its tight plot without meandering too much into the world of the drug dealers. Telios, a pharmaceutical company, has been running secret trials of the drug Power on New Orleans' citizens. It plans to expand to other cities for more clinical trials, in hopes that further studies – and of course, investment – will lead to a pill that grants you powers forever, not just five minutes. During the chaos, the Matriarch escapes with a suitcase full of pills. Meanwhile, Art, Frank, and Robin find their way onto a ship (yep, like in the ocean) where Tracy is being kept, as her DNA is the basis for Power. They rescue Tracy and Art takes Power, being granted the ability to boil the water around him like the mantis shrimp, and kills everyone else on board. What happened to Matriarch and the suitcase of drugs? When we asked co-director Henry Joost this, he told Digital Spy: "No, it wasn't resolved. "But I'm happy you picked up on that, because I think that's an interesting thing to think about: what happened to that briefcase of pills out in the world? Joost told Digital Spy: "We wanted to design it as a fully enclosed, satisfying, entertaining story. Project Power is available to stream on Netflix now. Interested in Digital Spy's weekly newsletter? This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses.