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Saturday, July 2, 2022

‘Project Power’ – Half Charged

Ben Nietzel
Ben Nietzel works as the principal of Saints Mary and Mathias Catholic School. He also enjoys coaching Muskie football and reviewing movies.

Muscatine Living

A new drug on the streets of New Orleans gives users random superpowers for five minutes. A local cop, young pusher, and a father looking for his daughter team up to stop the drug and its deadly consequences.

Pro – Acting

The first thing anyone coming upon “Project Power” will notice is the star power of Netflix’s newest release. A case could be made for Jamie Foxx being the most talented person in Hollywood right now, and he is great once again. Every scene he is in is better for it. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is another A-lister, and he shines as well. Dominique Fishback will surely be the breakout star of the movie. Playing good-hearted teenage drug dealer Robin, she is on screen constantly and impressively carrying her weight alongside the two superstars. Her character has some issues, but her performance is great.

Neutral – Artistic expression

“Project Power” does a nice job of breaking out of the traditional movie mold. Using a variety of filming techniques, angles, and cameras, directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman create a film that at its best feels fresh and unique. Shots appearing as cell phone footage as the characters film the action in real time are pretty cool. Of particular note is a stunning action sequence that takes place while the camera pans around inside a glass tank. It is a great trick.

At its worst though, the uniqueness strays into distraction. Some unnecessary use of fish eye cameras and weird angles might signify a distinct style, but that does not make it a good choice. There are times where it is a bit too distracting.

Con – leaps of faith

The core concept of “Project Power” is interesting. A revolutionary pill can give people an unpredictable superpower for five minutes, if it doesn’t kill them. An evil corporation hopes to monetize the pill, but first has it distributed like narcotics in an effort to get around the FDA and conduct human experiments. Yes, FDA non-approval of a superpower-granting drug is a plot point.

The issue with” Project Power” is that the story told seems to be too big for the time allotted. Perhaps a lot was left on the cutting floor, but the leaps that this film takes are both massive and preposterous at times. To push the story forward, a whole host of improbable events occur too often. It feels like shortcuts had to be taken to get the film to fit into a watchable time frame. The characters are constantly doing things that shouldn’t work, or possessing skills that have no basis in their background to drive the plot forward. Maybe the most egregious is when Fishback’s seventeen-year-old Robin character is able to sew up an entry and exit bullet wound because her mom works at a vet clinic.

“Power Project” is sure to leap off the screen at you when you see the trailer and notice the star power. It’s got some fun action, some great special effects, and it’s top stars are amazing. The film looks unique but oscillates between “did you see that!” and distracting. Ultimately, the biggest issue is the film uses so many easy shortcuts to drive itself forward, it fails to fully capitalize on its potential. It is a fun watch for a slow evening, but not something anyone needs to prioritize seeing.

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