Current Issue #488

Film Review:
Project Power

Co-directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost’s violent action epic is as flashy and empty as their teen-targeted Nerve and Viral, with dreary characters and (even for this sort of lark) some whopper credibility gaps.

Overlong, drawn-out and more than a touch pretentious, this also elicits disappointingly strained performances from stars Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, although the lesser-known Dominique Fishback is pretty good as much-imperilled wannabe-hip-hopper Robin Reilly.

A near-future New Orleans is experiencing a rash of showy crime and chaos due to a new drug called ‘Power’ that allows dangerous and unpredictable superpowers for five minutes, and high schooler Robin (Dominique) has somehow got hold of a complimentary bunch and become a dealer. One of her buyers is NOPD Officer Frank Shaver, as portrayed by a sneering Gordon-Levitt, who’s now pushing 40 but still looks boyish (let’s call it ‘Matthew Broderick Syndrome’) and struggles to convince as a gun-toting hard-ass.

Frank secretly (and unprofessionally) takes the drug himself to gain strength and invulnerability, which he uses to fight, for example, a naked bank robber who can somehow turn chameleonic and invisible. Power is hopelessly unstable though, and another unfortunate turns into a graphic, painful-looking variant of the ‘Human Torch’ (from the Fantastic Four) that eventually explodes while being shaken down by the mysterious, haunted and clichéd Art (the top-billed Foxx).

Art eventually tracks down Robin and uses her to get close to one of the key guys behind Power: a grinning nasty amusingly named Biggie (Rodrigo Santoro). And if you’re suspecting that Foxx’s Art has some grim personal vendetta against Biggie and the whole damn Power thing, then maybe you should be writing dopey action movies yourself instead of just watching them?

Full of references to the X-Men (who mostly appear in better movies than this), this continues our endless love affair with the entire notion of superheroism, although it does tend to forget that we actually like The Avengers (if not the Justice League). Here, however, the characters are typically dull, contrived and less than amiable, meaning we just don’t care if they turn Hulk-like or have devastating Jean-Grey-like freakouts.

And yes, there’s the vaguest suggestion that there might be a sequel at the very end. And, well… super.

Reviewer Rating

Project Power (MA) is now streaming on Netflix

DM Bradley

See Profile

Get the latest from The Adelaide Review in your inbox

Get the latest from The Adelaide Review in your inbox