If you enjoy reading my Spoiler-Free reviews, please follow my blog @ https://www.msbreviews.com Project Power is the most recent Netflix project featuring a great cast, but the attention-grabber for me is the screenplay debut for Mattson Tomlin (also co-writing The Batman with Matt Reeves). It's the closest to a superhero movie any viewer is going to get for the following months, but at the same time, it couldn't be more different than the usual flicks from said genre. I barely knew a thing about the film besides the synopsis and the cast, so I was open to everything Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman cooked up. The concept definitely intrigued me, the cast convinced me, and the movie itself... didn't reach half of its potential, unfortunately. Let's start with the positives. Even though Dominique Fishback had a part in The Hate U Give, this is her first big role in an also big film, and she's probably the best thing about it. She delivers a pretty good performance, especially for someone who has to share so much screentime with two experienced actors, but her rapping skills steal the show. Not only the improvised lines fit her character, Robin, but the way that she raps elevates every single rhyme. As expected, Jamie Foxx is remarkable as Art, as well as Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Frank. Both incorporate their characters seamlessly, performing their dialogues and action sequences with ease. Character-wise, Robin and Art receive generic yet quite efficient arcs. Both are driven by cliche motivations connected to their own families, but the actors do a fantastic job making it all feel realistic and emotionally compelling. Mattson Tomlin's script for each character also helps with captivating conversations and memorable lines. However, both the story and the remaining characters lack depth. Frank doesn't have any sort of backstory or unique motives, being merely a cop who wants to protect his city. The "bad guys" (Rodrigo Santoro, Amy Landecker) represent the most formulaic aspect of the whole movie: just the usual greedy, egocentric, power-driven drug dealers, version #271837 put to film. The movie's concept is fascinating, and its first half does an excellent job of exploring and expanding that premise. Sadly, the main focus eventually switches to the supposedly more entertaining, action-heavy plot. The "supposedly" wasn't written by chance because the action scenes are rather disappointing, to be honest. Sure, there are a couple of unquestionably eye-opening sequences, which contain decent visuals. Nevertheless, most are so filled with CGI and hard-to-follow, choppy editing (Jeff McEvoy) that I could rarely see an entire sequence clearly. Michael Simmonds' cinematography employs way too shaky camera movements as well. There's even what I think was supposed to look like a one-take action set piece, but due to the aspects referenced above, it just doesn't seem like it. In addition to this, the powers displayed could use a bit more creativity. Having in mind that everyone has a different power, superstrength, superspeed, or the ability to create fire aren't exactly groundbreaking skills. With so many superhero films released in the past few years, Project Power could have delivered something unique (granted, there's one underrated power taken from an animal that's pretty badass), but it stayed in the safe zone. Overall, the action and the editing are so inconsistent that I can't really fault them entirely. The most disappointing aspect of all is how little development the primary narrative gets. I firmly believe it's a fantastic premise to create a TV show out of it, but Joost and Schulman could have done a better job with Tomlin's screenplay, which could have taken a much more detailed approach with a more experienced writer. Taking everything into account... Project Power boasts a talented cast, featuring a badass Jamie Foxx and a remarkable Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but it's Dominique Fishback who steals the spotlight. Demonstrating not only her acting abilities but also her rapping skills, Fishback shines in her first significant role. Her character and Foxx's are the heart and soul of the movie, which possesses a genuinely intriguing take on the superhero concept, but that, unfortunately, fails to reach its potential. The remaining characters are extremely undeveloped, especially the cliche, power-thirsty villains who I even struggle to remember their names. Some action sequences might deliver what viewers are looking for, but most are packed with an incomprehensible amount of CGI, uncontrollably choppy editing, shaky camera movements, and a lack of imagination regarding the powers shown. If the focus stayed in telling a more detailed narrative instead of the disappointing action, maybe it would have been quite a nice surprise. As it is, it's far from being a bad film, so I recommend it to anyone who wants a generic yet remotely entertaining action-packed Netflix flick. Rating: C+
Good watch, could watch again, and can recommend. This is a weird one to categorize as it's a "super power" movie, but not a "super hero" movie. This actually mimics a lot of "Black Lightning" with more of a Marvel's "mutant growth hormone" vibe without feeling ANYTHING like a Marvel movie. Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon Levitt are great and carry the movie well, but I honestly found everyone else in the movie a bit lacking, which is a shame as Dominique Fishback has a lot of potential, but I don't think we see it: she didn't do badly, but it wasn't great either. The story it self is interesting, and some of the characters are interesting, but this is definitely more of an action based movie where they can flash some effects and cool imagery to try to distract the audience until it gets more interesting. It's really more of a drug movie with the occasional "burst" of super powers as they only last a rather arbitrary 5 minutes, exactly. It's a gimmick movie, but it isn't bad. This is a good way to keep an action flick memorable and refreshing.
This movie had such promise. It could have spawned a new TV series akin to that of _Heroes_ or the more recent comic book adaptation _The Boys_. Instead it got trapped in a generic plot with a lot of unrealized potential. The story isn't bad. It's just not particularly unique, especially for a power-based fantasy like this one. A man trying to take the shadow corporation that is distributing the drug called **Power** and a local cop trying to maintain order in a corrupt neighbourhood. The two inevitably meet and their goals align. It's a pretty standard formula, that is quite frankly, in need of revision. The characters are interesting. Interesting enough to warrant their own movies. Jamie Foxx is pretty awesome as the rogue vigilante, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt holds his own as the good detective whose charisma is just as much of a power as the one he gets from the drug. But the standout performance is from Dominique Fishback, who connects with both characters almost equally. Fishback plays a young dealer of the aforementioned Power, as a way to make ends meet for herself and her mother. In the meantime, she desires to become a rapper, and the actress more than delivers on the talent. This is definitely a character that I would like to see more of... but maybe not in this find of movie. While she is a major character, she does not play a major role, which makes one question her place in this story. Is she meant to represent the viewer? The one who witnesses the insanity of super-humans in the streets of New-Orleans? Or was she supposed to be Robin to Foxx's Batman, something she herself, suggested? It doesn't really feel like she belongs. Despite handling Power for most of the movie, she never experiences it, and her dream of being a rapper is not truly touched upon. The rest of the cast are largely forgettable, except for Rodrigo Santoro, the main distributor of the drug. This is unfortunate, because he gets less screen time than he deserved. His personality is smooth and enjoyable. You want to get to know him better, as well as his power. But his story is quickly cut. Rather messily, I might add. Machine Gun Kelly is only notable because of his name more than anything else, and his sole purpose is to introduce us to the dangers of Power. Something that is never really brought up again. The location is dull, though the history is not. It is a pity that there isn't more detail of the effect that Hurricane Katrina had on the people of New Orleans. And although this movie is supposedly set in the not-so distant future, there is nothing that suggests it is, aside from the drug itself. Combat and special effects are perhaps the best part of this movie. Seeing each character's power unleashed, and how they use it, is done better than some major motion pictures. Each power not only represents a personality, but is derived from a specific animal. (I had no idea how crazy a pistol-shrimp really was, but you'll have to watch the movie to know what I mean). The action is well-executed, though Art sometimes feels too good, removing a sense of tension whenever he gets into a scrum. The downside is that very few powers are actually seen in this film, and the ones we do see are very typical in the superhero genre. The music is decent, if not a little on the nose. That's really all that can be said there. While Fishback's raps are catchy, and there is a great moment for her, they don't do anything to drive the plot. The conclusion is as predictable as they come. I won't spoil it, though I suppose I already have, in which case, I apologize. I find it strange, that despite not enjoying this movie, I want to see what happens next. Especially since there is nothing. On another note, I am now concerned for the upcoming Batman movie. Mattson Tomlin's writing is far from stellar, and while he has potential, I doubt it has improved in such a short span of time.