Project Power review: Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in this superhero film with a twist
Does the world really need another superhero movie? When in doubt, the answer is always yes. And while 2020 has played out a series of unfortunate events, there's no better time for Netflix's latest original release, Project Power to be streamed right this instant. Simply because, this isn't any cookie-cutter Marvel and X-Men iteration, it's a film that under the guise of supernatural powers, lays out political and social nuances that have been amplified more so this year. For starters, the source of power is dubbed to arise from a drug. A pill that's peddled illegally. Somehow, the film opens by criminalising the said power, which is vastly different from the hero imagery of action figures kids grew up worshipping.
The film, directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, not only stars Jamie Foxx, but also the homecoming of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who recently resurfaced with another thriller, 7500 after an acting hiatus. Set in the evocative New Orleans, Gordon-Levitt who plays a police officer in a corrupt system, is seen pulling all the stops and bending the rules just to protect the city against the debauchery of the "pill". Similar to his impressionable role in The Dark Knight Rises back in 2012, Gordon-Levitt serves as a relentless sidekick to Foxx and breakout star Dominique Fishback, who plays a teenage pill peddler. Together, the unlikely trio find themselves fighting against the sinister forces of the drug.
Make no mistake, there are a few plot-holes along the way. But the film is salvaged by the overarching themes that go beyond mind-boggling CGI and even a surprise appearance by Rodrigo Santoro (who remembers seductive Xerxes from 300). The police force who have sworn to protect its people turns out to be serving the darker bedrock of power and money, which coincides with the recent Black Lives Matter movement charged by a history of oppression and police brutality. Along the way, discrimination of multi-racial couples are also flagged out. The writers also reference other factual incidents of the past like Tuskegee experiments, with regards to using people of colour as test subjects to build the film's foundation.
The portrayal of superheroes in Project Power, reveals that you don't have to garner super strength or morph into a monster in order to save the world. Instead, common civilians can do the same job by fighting in their own ways. There are no sequels, prequels, or greater origin story to uncover. But the film says it as it is, elevated by Foxx's bravado, the occasional colourful dialogue and a tribute bit to rap culture. Safe to say, the undertones of Project Power are tenfolds more impactful than any Marvel film starring an all-star cast. The latter also had more than a few times to make a difference, by the way.