These superhero powers will make you pill poppers. Get ready for some action.
Filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost (also known as Henry & Rel), who both started their movie careers with the riveting “Catfish” a decade ago, have tackled a set-up that splices “Chronicle” with “Limitless” and “Requiem for a Dream.” There is a pill that gives you superpowers. You don’t get the powers you want, you get the powers that are given to you. And there is a 5-minute limit.
The title would be “Project Power,” and most of the way through, it delivers the goods by breaking some rules and allowing the actors Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Dominique Fishback (“The Hate U Give”) to take risks. It’s yet another updated version of the superhero genre, this one containing drugs, guns, violence, and supply-and-demands; and you’re just having fun watching what goes down.
Foxx is a former military officer named Art, A.K.A the Major, who is on the case for his missing daughter, and must deal with drug dealers in order to get closer. Gordon-Levitt is a New Orleans cop named Frank, who practically gets kicked off the force for using a pill to fight the criminals. The pill makes him bullet-proof, for the record. And Fishback is a young drug-dealing teen named Robin, who is trying to feed her diabetic mother. She comes across the Major, who requires her assistance, and Frank, who constantly protects her from her enemies.
The bad guys in the movie aren’t fully developed, but they do have their moments. You get Rodrigo Santoro as a middleman, Amy Landecker as a scientist and supplier, and Colson Baker A.K.A. Machine Gun Kelly as a dealer, who looks like Two-Face at first and then becomes a satanic version of the Human Torch. He’s only given a 5-minute segment (being that’s how long the powers last for, and that his characters overdoses on them), but he’s the more interesting antagonist than the other two, who basically rely on one-liners to shake their characters up.
But the heroes are the best things about “Project Power,” because of how writer Mattson Tomlin provides Foxx, Gordon-Levitt, and Fishback with formula situations and spices them up with fresh and daring energy and intentions. Foxx is cool when his characters knows the game, and is willing to fight the system. Gordon-Levitt is fun when his character spoofs Clint Eastwood and can survive bullet wounds with the pill, of course. And Fishback has a more ambitious future ahead of her than Terrence Little Gardenhigh in “Coffee & Kareem,” because of how she rises to the occasion, and has good reasons for her drug dealing.
Henry & Rel collaborate with these actors on a superhero movie that doesn’t require product endorsements or the big ad campaigns like Marvel or DC, but requires the dangers at the level of “Kick-Ass,” and “Brightburn,” both under-appreciated in my opinion, and “Chronicle,” which was the only entertaining movie in Josh Trank’s career. I can’t praise the villains, because of how they’re thinly written and developed, but I can praise the heroes for their ambitions and attitudes. It’s on Netflix now, and I think you’re in for a real kick.
Available on Netflix