Project Power (dir. Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman, 2020) – A new pill on the market lets loose uncontrolled superpowers on the streets, where a dealer, a cop and a veteran attempt to stop its creators.
NOPD officer Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) sets the timer on his watch and pops the pill. For the next five minutes, he is bullet proof, a power that vanishes soon as the timer beeps. These are the precise rules that govern Project Power, a film that offers special abilities in well-timed short bursts – to just about anyone on the streets.
The catch? From cyro to pyrokinesis, there is no telling what ability one is going to get. As Machine Gun Kelly’s unfortunate dealer proves, most suffer uncontrolled surges that ultimately prove fatal, driving Frank’s determination to take down the source.
His prime suspect is military veteran Art (Jamie Foxx), who is revealed to be after the source of the drugs himself. Driven by a personal vendetta, as he turns to abducting Robin (Dominique Fishback), a high schooler who deals the pills to afford medication for her ailing mother.
One might expect Frank to jump in and save the day, but the narrative takes a welcome turn from the cliché. Robin needs no saviour. She quickly comes into her own, getting off a natural high of adrenaline and wit, without relying on the novelty of supercharged powers.
Her easy charm outshines the top billing, an impressive feat considering her co-stars’ track record that they continue to upkeep. Her growing bond with Art is also what lends heart and most of the fun to the otherwise trite chase after caricatural villains.
To make up for the absence of memorable bad men, the movie at least has its sporadic moments of inventive action scenes. One standout set piece witnesses neatly choreographed combat unfold behind glass, its sound and visual in perfect synchrony.
All that may not be nearly enough for Project Power to warrant awards or even sequels in the making. Still, the refreshing lead characters make for solid blockbuster entertainment, which is much appreciated especially during these times of delayed releases and socially distanced cinemas.
In the superhero department, Netflix fills part of the gaping void left behind, just as Marvel is enjoying its post-Infinity Saga break.