Project Power (2020)

Project Power
Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Writer: Mattson Tomlin
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dominique Fishback, Rodrigo Santoro, Courtney B. Vance, Amy Landecker, Machine Gun Kelly
Seen on: 23.7.2021

Plot:
There’s a new drug making the rounds – a drug that give you extraordinary powers for exactly five minutes, although you won’t know which powers you’ll get until you try. Robin (Dominique Fishback) is trying to safe some money by selling some of it. One of her customers is police officer Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who is afraid that the police is outmatched if they don’t use the drug themselves, but who is very interested in finding the people behind the drug. Equally interested, but for very different reasons, is Art (Jamie Foxx), an ex-soldier. By chance, Robin brings Frank and Art together – and they start to investigate.

Project Power is okay. It’s neither particularly good, nor particularly bad, although it has moments of both.

The film poster showing Robin (Dominique Fishback), Art (Jamie Foxx) and Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) standing in a vague V-formation with Art at the center-front, holding up a glowing pill.

[Slight SPOILERS]

I always know that a film is in trouble when I start questioning how things work or make sense. And unfortunately, for a film that is built around one very central concept – the drug -, the drug itself just didn’t make sense at all. I’m willing to accept a lot of technobabble or sciencebabble, but a) there just is no possible way a drug’s effect will last exactly five minutes, down to the second (set the timer, baby), no matter the person, their metabolism (that day) or a hundred other bodily factors. And b) you telling me that the drug works by introducing animal DNA into our system, giving people the abilities of said animals (like the strength of an ant or something) – then why do all pills give different powers, but always the same power to the same people? (Also, is there any animal that actually spontaneously combusts? Or that suddenly turns giant, including increased mass?)

As I said, a film is already in trouble when I start paying attention to world-building faults and plot holes. It’s indicative of a general lack of (emotional) involvement from me in the film, a lack of tension in the narrative, or interest in the characters. All of these apply to this film, with the latter weighing the heaviest. I just didn’t give much of a fuck about Art or Frank and their ridiculous “lone ranger” missions. That Frank is a police officer going rogue also really didn’t help matters.

Art (Jamie Foxx) tied to a chair, a glowing pill between his teeth.

Between them, though, was the utter delight that is Robin and Dominique Fishback who plays her. An absolutely charming, funny, and emotionally touching performance. She was the entire highlight of the film for me (despite a bit of a clunky character) and after a while, I basically only really tuned into things when she showed up.

The film has some good moments apart from her (the scene where Frank shows up at Robin’s place and just leverages his white privilege against the baddies, for example), but overall, the plot oscillates between confusing and predictable, and the film just doesn’t get the momentum it needs to build the necessary tension. Yeah, it’s watchable, but not much more.

Frank (Joseph Godron-Levitt) crouching in a street.

Summarizing: well, ok.

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