This Project Power review reveals BRM’s official thoughts and hot takes on the new Netflix movie starring Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon Levitt.
Project Power is a movie that recently released on Netflix and it has a decently interesting premise. People can unlock superpowers temporarily by taking a drug called Power. A good cop held back by a corrupt system played by Joseph Gordon Levitt has to team up with a street vigilante with similar goals played by Jamie Foxx.
Let me start off with the obvious. First, Project Power is so extremely clearly an off-brand sort of trial run of an X-Men movie at a lower production budget. Hollywood seems to do this from time to time. I imagine part of the pitch for this movie was building up the video reels/portfolios for the actors and the production team so they can get hired onto the X-Men franchise later on.
Does that mean we might see Jamie Foxx as Bishop or Joseph Gordon Levitt as… I don’t know. Someone? Perhaps, perhaps not.
Next, Project Power is shockingly reminiscent of Netflix’s previous sci-fi/fantasy outing, Bright. The production budget, cinematography, pacing, color palette and overall vibe of the movie feels very, very similar. It’s like Netflix has sort of invented its own spin on the made-for-TV movie. Maybe just like we see the Hallmark channel pump out dozens of similarly filmed meet cute romantic comedies, Netflix plans to churn out dozens of fantasy-infused cop dramas made by people who clearly watched Robocop a lot of times as kids?
Another thing about this movie is that its subject matter and underlying message is kind of a weird choice in 2020. It’s pro cop and anti school? Interesting direction. No judgment, I don’t care. I’m just surprised that hot take on reality made it through a high-octane woke Hollywood board room.
Let me explain this a little bit just in case you didn’t see Project Power yet. Gordon-Levitt plays a cop who goes outside the scope of the law because the rules of engagement are holding cops back.
He takes the Power drug to get invulnerability and super strength so he can beat the shit out of various crooks without reading them their miranda rights or following due process or police procedure like wearing a body cam to ensure fair treatment under the law. He’s the good guy. Which totally makes sense in a gritty 1980s Miami Vice throwback cop drama. But, I’m, uh, extremely surprised to see the lionization of such a character in 2020.
In other words, one of the 3 main characters is like ‘fuck all these rules man, screw the bureaucracy and the politicians we gotta play outside the rules and fight fire with fire on the streets,’ which is especially weird because the cast of this movie is like 80% black. I think it’s best not to think about the extreme confluence of cognitive dissonance this movie requires if you try to think about what the intent of Project Power is demographic/marketing-wise.
Then there’s another character, Robin, who’s like the plucky fish out of water kid with potential. More about her later, but for now, here’s where this movie decides to go with her character. She’s in school and the teacher’s trying to teach the class and she’s trying to talk to her drug dealer on her phone and so the teacher mildly scolds her and the movie presents this scene like the teacher is being an unreasonable asshole.
She has a fantasy where she defeats his authoritarian interruption of her completely inappropriate classroom decorum, not to mention illegal activity, with sick raps (which actually are not that sick, it’s a very amateur after-school-special kind of flow). Then later on Jamie Foxx is bonding with her and he’s like yeah girl that rap game, that’s the ticket. She just did a bunch of medical stuff that Jamie Foxx didn’t find nearly as impressive, so the implicit message, again, for the second time in Project Power is fuck education, roll the dice on being a rapper. You gotta focus on that. Horrible advice, Jamie Foxx.
I guess when everyone found out Bill Cosby spent 40 years as a well known serial rapist the whole stay-in-school legacy of the Cosby Show, Fresh Prince and Family Matters got convicted of rape too because now the message is fuck science, do rap.
Anyway, that and the cop thing were just bizarre. I don’t have any kind of moral complaint or anything I’m just like ‘lol what, what a weird choice’.
So anyway, back to the movie. Machine Gun Kelly is in this movie. He plays a guy named Newt who is extremely shifty. MGK does alright playing a shifty dude named Newt. Newt has the same powers as the human torch which doesn’t fit at all with Newt’s name or his shifty character, but alright, whatever.
There were some cool powers in this movie. There’s a naked chameleon guy a little later on. There’s a guy with the same powers as Marrow from the X-Men (ability to grow extra bones to use as weapons). There’s a frost-powered lady. “Just like Frozen!” the character in the movie proclaims. Pretty neat array of powers that gets showcased. Again, it kind of feels like a special effects reel for people to use in their portfolio in their job application for the upcoming X-Men films, but that’s alright. It’s still cool.
A lot of these powers get casually foreshadowed during various exposition scenes which I thought was kind of neat. For example, early on Gordon-Levitt tells a guy not to take the drug because his power might turn out to be that he just spontaneously explodes and dies. Sure enough, someone finds out that’s their power later on. Things like that happen maybe half a dozen times. I thought that was cool.
The best scene in this entire movie is a scene where Gordon-Levitt breaks into the house of an older black lady who’s being interrogated by gangster thugs and uh, resolves the situation. I won’t say any more to avoid spoilers, but that scene was a winner.
Jamie Foxx, as always, is extremely likable and charismatic. There’s not much more to be said about it. Project Power is not an Oscar vehicle. The character in the movie is not incredibly demanding of Foxx’s acting A-Game and Foxx delivers exactly what the movie asks of him.
One thing I want to just sort of randomly throw out here is that I really liked the New Orleans setting for the movie. I thought that was fresh and it added a lot of character to the movie. Very neat. Big thumbs up for that.
The final 3rd of Project Power is, just like most of the actual Marvel movies, a 3rd act extended fight sequence that drags on way too long. It doesn’t have the amazing budget and fight choreography of the later Avengers movies. We’re talking like Iron Man 1, but with a made-for-TV production vibe. The 3rd act of Venom is a good comparison. I got bored and started messing around on my phone.
As for the plot of Project Power, it’s fine. Not too bad. Very similar to the plot structure of any of the Lethal Weapon movies, except it has that fantasy twist with the super powers. I’m semi-convinced the plot of this movie is also some kind of trial balloon for how to retcon mutants into existing in the MCU.
The greater plot, spoiling as little as possible, is that there is one singular actual mutant that the Power pill comes from and it opens up the possibility of mutants being created via the pill or more mutants being born naturally. If they chose to use something like this as the MCU explanation it could make sense, at least insofar as explaining how Scarlet Witch’s MCU backstory as a science experiment meshes with her canonically being a mutant.
I don’t know man, Project Power is a real C+ movie but it’s clearly trying to be a C+ movie, so in a way it gets a B+ as a C+ movie. Does that make sense? I hope it does.
If you like stuff like Lethal Weapon and then also like Marvel movies, Project Power is a solid movie to throw on. I enjoyed it. I can’t say Project Power is ‘good’ in the same way I can’t say ramen noodles are ‘good’, but we all know ramen noodles are pretty good. So, yeah, Lethal Weapon + off-brand X-Men. If that sounds like your thing, go give Project Power a watch.
That about covers it for my Project Power review. Be sure to check out the Reviews Section or the Main Page for more reviews. We review a lot of different things. Movies, TV shows, games, music, even YouTube Channels. Follow BRM on Twitter so you can stay up to date with the latest posts. I also have a YouTube channel floating around somewhere.