Monday, August 17, 2020

Project Power (2020)

Streaming Services: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Project Power (2020)
Genre: Action, Crime, Sci-Fi
Length: 113 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Supermarch√©, Netflix, Screen Arcade
Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Writer: Mattson Tomlin
Actors: Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dominique Fishback, Rodrigo Santoro, Courtney B. Vance, Amy Landecker, Machine Gun Kelly, Tait Fletcher, Allen Maldonado, Andrene Ward-Hammond, Kyanna Simone Simpson, C.J. LeBlanc, CG Lewis, Joseph Poliquin, Jazzy De Lisser, Cory DeMeyers, Casey Neistat, Azhar Khan, Rose Bianco, Askia Bennett

Blurb from IMDb: When a pill that gives its users unpredictable superpowers for five minutes hits the streets of New Orleans, a teenage dealer and a local cop must team with an ex-soldier to take down the group responsible for its creation.

Selina’s Point of View:
This is a little strange, but I have to start my review by talking about the trailer.

The trailer laid out this incredibly unique plot and showed a bit of the cinematic quality paired to an adrenaline provoking song. It took bits from every part of the film without resorting to spoilers. That’s a difficult thing to do. I mean, there’s a scene from the very top of the climax in the trailer and, even in hindsight, it’s not a spoiler. Production companies need to take note. This is how you make a trailer. I got everything I signed up for and then some.

I had to start there, because really good trailers are hard to come across. Let’s move on to the movie, though, because there’s a lot worth talking about.

Project Power was every bit as good as I expected it to be.

I have to start with a look at the graphics and cinematography. This was, hands down, one of the most gorgeous films I have ever seen.

It captured the feel of New Orleans, as a setting, well. You had the grit of city life that felt familiar to me. Now, I don’t live in Louisiana – but I did live in Brooklyn for over 30 years. I know how to find that beauty in the graffiti, the grime, and the strange personalities. It felt a little like home – and then they threw in the powers.

Holy shit. The power graphics were insane. They took so many favorite hero-based powers and brought them into the real world. It was done so well that I believed it. Someone with a fire power would look like they had burn scars all over them – from those few moments after the power wore off but their clothes were still on fire. Someone with a bulletproof ability who gets shot in the head would pass out from the impact and awaken with burst blood vessels in their eye. The attention to detail was impressive. At the same time, the actual portrayal of the powers was beyond anything any superhero movie has ever given us.

Which brings me to my next point: Project Power is not a superhero movie.

I read some of the bad reviews that this film got and they all go into it as if it’s a superhero movie. It’s not. Yes, there are powers used in the story – but it’s not the people using the powers that the plot focuses on. At most, each ability is used more like a gun or a shield than a focus. The main point of the film is the connection between very real, very normal, individuals. One of the main characters never even pops a pill.

At most, I’d say it’s an action/crime film with some noir undertones. No one’s out there in spandex taking down an archvillain. It’s not even a motivation to protect the populace (for the most part). It’s closer to Taken (2008) than it is to anything from the MCU or DCU. You know what? That’s what I’m going with. It’s like Taken if the people in that movie had access to the power pills used in this one.

If you judge it like a superhero flick, it’s not going to measure up, because that’s not what it is.

I want to see a lot more of the world that was created here. We could absolutely get some kind of superhero flick from it, but it’s not necessary. What’s been done with Project Power is something new. If the creators wanted to make other movies from this world, they wouldn’t have to stick to a certain genre or sub-genre. They could make anything to further examine this premise and still come out with something incredible. I could absolutely see a horror or a comedy in this world.

Regardless of what they do in the future, though, Project Power was good. It was new and refreshing, while still offering just a touch of familiarity that really helps in our current uncertain world. It’s something I think we all really needed.

Judge for yourself. The next time you’re having an awful day, sit down and turn on this film. It’ll help you get out of your own head for a while.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’ve been really excited to watch Project Power since I first saw its trailer. My desire to watch this film actually fought a battle with a few others to sort the top spots in my personal Top 20 list for August 2020. I ended up rolling a die to determine how to order the films.

The trailer gave promising flashes of action, super-powered mayhem, cop procedural, and general awesome badassery. Here’s the good news – the movie lived up to the hype, as far as I was concerned.

Co-directors Henry Joost (Catfish, Nerve, Viral) and Ariel Schulman (3x3, Paranormal Activity 3, Nerve) are certainly no stranger to the supernatural. They’ve taken on the ghostly series that swept theaters and streaming rentals by storm with two of the Paranormal Activity (2007) flicks. They’re also no stranger to action. Their talents were well put to use here.

Of course, they had a magic trifecta within their cast comprised of Jamie Foxx (White House Down, Annie, Baby Driver), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50/50, The Night Before, Knives Out), and Dominique Fishback (Night Comes On, The Hate U Give, The Deuce). I had a little giggle when I realized Fishback’s character’s name is Robin. I’ll let you connect those dots.

The core premise of this film is just really interesting. I’m an admitted comic book geek. I know a little about a lot of titles, and a lot about a small range of them – but I love them all the same. This movie isn’t really based on any particular comic title; but with its plot, it could be. 

There’s something inherently appealing about popping a pill and getting super-powers even if it is only short-term. Society as a whole is always looking for that instant remedy or that quick fix. So many just want to throw a pill at things and find instant results. Here that concept goes to a whole new level.

I found it easy to just let myself sink into the story and get carried away. I was giddy after the first moment that I realized that this story was set in New Orleans, and I chanted right along with the occasional “who dat think they gonna beat dem Saints,” as it appeared in the background. I could see something like this playing out on the streets of The Big Easy.

I would absolutely recommend anyone that’s a fan of any genre within this blend to give this movie a whirl. I am going to be crossing my fingers that it gets enough response that they might consider expanding on the tale with a sequel. As it stands, the film is fine as a stand-alone. I just want more.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 63%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 56%
Metascore – 51/100
Metacritic User Score – 4.8/10
IMDB Score – 6.0/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5

Movie Trailer:

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