Friday 5 February 2021

Movie Review: Project Power (2020)

A mindless action movie with science fiction notes, Project Power offers a nonsensical story and sloppy execution.

In New Orleans, the new drug Power hits the streets, providing users with an exhilarating jolt of individualized superhuman characteristics for 5 minutes. Young Robin (Dominique Fishback) and her cousin Newt (Colson Baker) become street-level peddlers. Police detective Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is one of Robin's customers, unapologetic about upgrading his stamina, speed and resiliency to apprehend pumped-up criminals.

The mysterious Major (Jamie Foxx) arrives in town intent on identifying the source of the drug. He tracks down Newt then Robin, and identifies a conspiracy by shadowy government types to test the drug in successive cities. The Major has personal reasons to investigate the drug epidemic, but will have to team up with the scrappy Robin and sceptical Frank to stop the carnage.

Project Power finds the reputable Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who should both know better, slumming it in a generically gratuitous thriller. While some of the cinematography is slick and a kernel of interest may reside in the idea of illegal drugs evolving to provide the ultimate high of superpower abilities, the Mattson Tomlin script is not interested in anything cerebral.

Instead the objective is to check-off a succession of unlikely action set-pieces, and these are often derivative, poorly structured and horribly edited into incomprehension. Every pill causes a different outcome depending on the individual user, triggering a ghastly "guess the next monster" parlour game. Co-directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman mechanically hustle the action along without explaining any aspect of whatever evil plot may be unfolding, the bad guys barely introduced and remaining essentially faceless and nameless.

The attempts at injecting some humanity through Robin's character and the Major's personal quest register as perfunctory, confirming Project Power as a disappointing short circuit.

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