Remember when Uncle Ben said the phrase, “With great power, comes great responsibility,” and the fandom went nuts? Well, “Project Power” asks, “What would you do if you have five minutes of power,” which doesn’t pack as much of a punch but still embraced my curiosity.
There’s a new drug that’s being distributed throughout New Orleans that gives you the ability to have an unpredictable superpower for only five minutes after you take it. Once the five minutes are up, you’re back to normal but the power leaves behind an imprint, kind of like a side effect.
The action starts early with a visually stunning fight scene between The Major, Jamie Foxx (“Ray”, “Baby Driver”), and drug dealer Newt, Colson Baker (“The Dirt”, “Big Time Adolescence”). This set piece sets the tone early as we see the full effect of the drug take hold of Newt and defines what an overdose looks like (Hint: It’s bloody).
After watching what happens with the criminals, we get to see how the other side of the law adapts with police officer Frank Shaver, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“7500”, “Inception”), having to stop a ‘power’ based bank robbery with using a pill for himself.
Major and Shaver become intertwined due to their affiliations with a young dealer Robin Reilly, Dominique Fishback (“The Hate U Give”). Reilly soon becomes entangled in Major’s mission to find his daughter while Shaver is searching for answers from Major.
While Foxx and Gordon-Levitt are the bigger names here, newcomer Fishback comes away with the movie. The camera loves her and she knows it. She holds her own against the other leads and has the more fascinating story since she captivates us without using any sort of superpower.
There’s a specific scene where Reilly decides to become vulnerable with Major and shows off her rapping ability which is her ultimate power. Her words transcend and hit far deeper than a pill ever would for her.
First-time feature writer Mattson Tomlin creates a very cool present-day New Orleans but lacks slightly in a consistent tone. There are times where the film leans towards slapstick moments with Shaver and it just feels out of place.
Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (“Nerve”, “Paranormal Activity 3”) show that they have a knack for action scenes that reminded me of sleeker versions of Michael Bay’s classic films. Like “Nerve” before it, the directors let their action scenes take precedent over story which eliminates a lot of the feelings you have for the characters.
Although semi-better than most Netflix originals, I feel like this needed to be a bit better to really stand with the memorable ones on the platform. With the talent attached, it could have been one of the greats, but that’s what happens when you favor style or substance.