By Christian DiMartino
Project Power takes place in a world in which people are able to purchase a drug that, for five minutes, gives you an incredible power. Not sure what my power would be, but the power I had watching the film was the power to stay awake. I did not take a pill, but I was still somewhat successful.
A lot of people will probably enjoy Project Power and a lot of people probably have enjoyed Project Power, which premiered on Netflix a few weeks ago. Despite the presence of Joseph Gordon Levitt (welcome back, I just wish you were in something better) and Jamie Foxx, this was not a film that seemed interesting to me. So perhaps it isn’t fair that I entered the movie with a lack of interest. Because my mindset lacked interest, and thus, watching the film, the interest wasn’t there. The film in question has a solid idea, but to me the material never really took liftoff. Things happen in it, and it’s building towards… uh, something, but what that something was was never compelling enough for me to care.
So yes, the aforementioned premise is that of a drug that, for 5 minutes, provides a power of some sort. Set in New Orleans (they frequently remind you of that too), the film provides a different takes on superpowers and what not, but it isn’t a particularly interesting take. Gordon Levitt plays Frank, a cop who is friends with a young girl named Robin (Dominique Fishback), who sells this drug. Frank also purchases the drug, in the event that an arrest ever goes south. Robin is soon kidnapped by mysterious fella named Art (Fox), who is hellbent on stopping the creators of the drug. Art has quite the interesting and potentially deadly power, but in a wise decision, it is not revealed until the climax.
And… I think that’s it. They try to stop the villains, and… yeah. Some of this stuff is cool. Art’s power is a marvel to behold. Frank’s power seems lame on paper but it put to cool use. And… yeah. This movie just didn’t do it for me. Netflix has so much money, and yet some of this just looks really fake. Some of these ideas may have sounded good on paper, but on screen they just don’t really click. Take, for example, a scene in which one of the villains, played by Rodrigo Santoro, balloons into a Mr. Hyde/ Solomon Grundy hybrid. It might’ve been okay with some sort of, uh, development, but it comes right the hell out of nowhere and seems unusually silly, even in a movie with a premise like this.
I imagine that Foxx and Gordon Levitt were paid pretty well, or maybe they weren’t paid enough, who knows. Fishback seems like a fine actress, with an exception: Robin has this dream of rapping, and maybe I just don’t have the stomach for it, but I didn’t have the stomach for hers either (that being said, she did better than I could).
Project Power left me very sleepy. Neither its story, nor its characters, ever really pulled me in. Quite frankly, the end couldn’t come any sooner because of that. Having said all of this, different people have different interests. Not everyone is interested in what I’m interested in- not everyone loves depressing movies like Leaving Las Vegas. For my money, Leaving Las Vegas is a thrill ride compared to this. Then again though, to each their own.