2 out of 5 stars
Netflix seems to be establishing their own superhero franchises from The Old Guard to Project Power. Even though they continually say that these are not superhero films, the streaming service still seems to have superpowers on the agenda. Projects that force audiences to consider what they would do if they were able to access extraordinary human abilities with a pill or by fate.
The latest epicentre for these magical powers is New Orleans where an unknown secret organisation releases a new drug onto the city that allows people to have special powers for five minutes. Each person who takes the mystery drug will not know what this special gift is until they ingest the pill. For some individuals it provides them with superhuman strength and abilities. In contrast, others come to a more disastrous end once they take the medication. An experiment that wreaks havoc on the Louisiana metropolis as people consume the drug and it exposes what is rooted in the human heart of most of mankind. Primarily because most people use their newfound abilities to perform crimes against society.
Some people choose an alternate path, like local police officer Frank Shaver (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). He uses the drug as a means of apprehending these subjects. Even though it is an illegal substance, he sees it as a means of balancing the scale of justice in the city. He tries to help a young dealer named Robin (Dominique Fishback) by providing her protection from other thugs in the city. A mutually beneficial partnership until Shaver is found out by the police leadership and his job is put in jeopardy. The only thing he can do to keep his job is to take the case of finding the one man who could bring down the mystery syndicate,The Major (Jamie Foxx). Frank must work with Robin to find this man and determine if his intentions are for good or evil.
Project Power seems to have the right mixture for success. It has an intriguing concept, the cast is stellar, the funding from Netflix must be exceptional, but in the end, the overall execution falls over on itself. Mattson Tomlin’s screenplay taps into a novel idea of the risk of unpredictable abilities that are provided by these pills. An element that had the potential for an exploration into the psychology and morality of humanity. This was handled with more finesse and nuance in 2011’s, Limitless. Unfortunately, the script of this film only scratches the surface of its potential instead of dealing with the significance of these powers being unleashed on society.
One could be led to believe that the cast would help this storyline to soar beyond mediocrity, but this turns into a false hope. The dialogue goes from clunky to forgettable and eventually devolves into unintentionally humorous. Wording that cannot be saved by the charm and skills of Foxx and the rest of cast. Especially when you realise that this was meant to be happening in New Orleans and not one person manages to attempt or have a Creole accent. That fact is almost an unforgivable sin for anyone who loves the city of New Orleans.
This project proves to be a poor attempt to find something new to offer to graphic novel fans who are looking for a cinematic injection of DC or Marvel. A film that could have been more aptly titled Project Plotholes, because of the disjointed nature of the whole experience. Even though this movie contains potential, it does implode like many of the unfortunate individuals who take the pill. Proving that Project Power does not provide the spark that is needed to ignite a new superhero franchise for Netflix.
REEL DIALOGUE: Can we be better humans?
In a way, this film is a statement on the experiment on humanity of illicit drugs or steroids. Narcotics that are unleashed on society with the promise of making us better. Offering us a new and improved humanity by making us happier or stronger. Yet, like most of these drugs, they prove to bring out the worst in us. Either destroying us physically or allowing our true hearts to be exposed. Why do we continue to experiment with unknown substances in the name of improvement or fun?
One of the answers to this question can be found in the study of the Bible. Based on the premise of the creator God who made all mankind in his image, it is no wonder that God's creation would want to improve on itself. This desire can be seen in the exercise industry, the pharmaceutical trade and even at your local health food store. Showing a multitude of moral juxtapositions to wrestle through in this consideration of improving on the human body and mind. Still, the very nature to improve ourselves is ingrained in humanity.
The only challenge is that God continues to prove that he is the only one to get it right when it comes to the creation of humanity. So, is the desire for self-improvement merely a lesson in futility or too hard to deny? Thankfully God does offer a means of improving on our current position in life. Even though it might not be the type of self-improvement you see at the local fitness centre. Discuss.
To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesian 4: 22-24