Project Power’s depth is merely flavouring, its comedy is barely amusing, its sentiment feels manipulative, and above all, its action doesn’t enthrall
The premise of Project Power is pregnant with possibilities. There’s a drug on the streets that’s able to bestow superpowers, but only for five minutes. Project Power feels like it wants to tow the mood of films like Kickass and Kingsman—that sweet intersection point between comedy, action and sentiment. But then, it’s a film that also tries to do justice to the social angle. It delivers passing commentary on how the government is keeping the whole problem quiet, how hierarchy comes into play, how the education system isn’t exactly favourable to everyone… And in the end, Project Power turns out to be a film that fails to do justice to any of its objectives. Its depth is merely flavouring, its comedy is barely amusing, its sentiment feels manipulative, and above all, its action doesn’t enthrall. It’s a pity because the core idea of humans being injected with powers drawn from creatures around the world seems full of magical possibilities. Picture a man with the camouflaging prowess of a chameleon, picture another with the speed of a cheetah. Project Power needed to burst with the imagination of good X-Men films. Instead, it settles for the security of template, but without being able to deliver much of the satisfaction inherent in it.
Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dominique Fishback
The main characters—Art (Jamie Foxx, who does his best to elevate the mediocre material), Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and Robin (Dominique Fishback)—are all cardboard cutouts. Art is the father in search of a daughter, Frank is the righteous policeman, and Robin is the emotional anchor. All these characters feel more like manipulative script devices than they do as real people. This is why the big scene when Art’s daughter realises her father’s coming for her, feels almost like a parody. There’s no respite to be drawn from the humour too. In one particularly painful attempt at comedy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Frank runs out from the bathroom, pretending to be married to a middle-aged Black woman, trying to scare away some policemen. To paraphrase what Fight Club’s Tyler Durden once observantly said, “There’s a sick desperation about the comedy.”
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For the remainder of this column (and there’s a lot more left, I assure you), visit https://www.cinemaexpress.com/reviews/english/2020/aug/14/project-power-an-underwhelming-exploration-of-a-powerful-premise-19799.html