Project Power

by | Aug 31, 2020 | 0 comments

Netflix’s Newest Action Flick Disappoints with Ubiquitous Inconsistencies

Netflix has proven in the last couple of years to be a heavy investor in original content, some of this has paid off with films that would otherwise never have gotten made like Roma (2018), Atlantics (2019), The Irishman (2019), etc. However, every once in a while, we do get a film that while trying to be original, fails dully.

Project Power (2020) is the newest high-profile release on Netflix. The film takes place in New Orleans, where the city has been hit by a new drug/pill that gives users temporary powers derived from animals. The problem with this pill is that repeated use can cause death and is thus creating an epidemic in the city. We follow the parallel stories of Art (Jamie Foxx) who is searching for his kidnapped daughter amongst the pill providers, Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) a flexible cop trying to find the pill supplier, and Robin (Dominique Fishback) a young pill dealer.

From the get-go one can see the high production value that Netflix provided filmmakers Henry Joost and Ariel Shulman. The visual effects when people are transforming due to the pill are a wonder to look at, one especially enjoyable one was a literal human chameleon. The cast is also well chosen with Foxx and Gordon-Levitt bringing posture and depth to their cliched characters. Fishback meanwhile, has been showing quality performances on The Deuce (2017-2019) and thus I was excited to see her in a different role in Project Power. Unfortunately, it is here that we begin to see the film’s greater flaws, as Fishback is misdirected by Joost and Shulman into an uneven and contradictory performance.

Joost and Shulman are unable to provide a consistent tone, or even decide the kind of film that they want to make. The script, by Mattson Tomlin, seems to want to emulate the 90s action flicks that were slightly tongue-in-cheek. Joost and Shulman sometimes give in to this direction, but at other times seem to want to bring a gritty realism that clashes horribly with the scripted intentions. This makes for a seesaw rhythm of tone that covers the entire film, constantly taking viewers out of the narrative. Joost, Shulman, and Tomlin are also incapable of bringing much characterization to our protagonists. They seem to think that simply having Art have a lost daughter and Robin have ambitions to be a rapper are enough to create fully dimensional characters. Aside from this there are an incredible amount of character inconsistencies and enormous plot holes. One is the flipflopping of characters being very serious and then cracking jokes a few seconds later. The biggest one, though, is the villains’ plot itself, which seeks to deal out these pills illegally in order to test the effects. Why would a company give out for free these extremely expensive pills and then not have any system to monitor people’s reaction to them?

It is this kind of lazy writing and direction that simply doesn’t convince viewers anymore. Action films have evolved to be a bit more thought-provoking and complex since the 1990s. Project Power proves to be a rather forgettable film, that doesn’t take advantage of its central superpower gimmick enough. The result is a very expensive-looking flick that simply fails to impress.

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What action movie bored you? Let me know in the comments section.

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