Project Power Movie Review: Star power makes or breaks Netflix's latest action-adventure

Boasting of a cast that includes Academy Award-winner Jamie Foxx and cinema darling Joseph Gordon-Levitt as well as an $85 million budget, Project Power looks promising on paper...if only the plot lived up to the star power it's packing.

Project Power presents a plot straight out of comic books: A drug called "Power" hits the streets of New Orleans, which gives people random superpowers for 5 minutes. It's all fun and games until ex-soldier Art (Jamie Foxx) arrives with a deeply personal mission to rid the world of Power, no matter what it takes. Caught in the crossfire is high-schooler Robin (Dominique Fishback), who deals Power on the side to help with her mom's medical bills, and her friend Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a cop who keeps her out of trouble in exchange for the pills so he can take on super-powered criminals on even ground. 

The titular pills are both the source of the movie's best moments and some of its most confusing ones. Project Power makes every scene with these pills a Big Deal, as death and destruction almost always comes after someone takes them. The visual effects of powers manifesting are obviously big budget and delightfully in-your-face for some X-Men-like thrills in fun action sequences (without the decades of historical baggage).

But at the same time, the pill's threadbare "constraints" like its time limit and randomness (a "bad power" is mentioned as just you exploding once you take a pill!) are thrown out the window when the Heroes are concerned. For all the dangers Power is supposed to pose, even Frank spams these pills without consequence in the final act, taking away any and all tension.

It's not like the cast needed further powering up. Foxx oozes with badassery and charisma, while Gordon-Levitt is fun and funny in equal amounts. Even Dominique Fishback holds her own against those two award-winning veterans, spitting bars and tugging heart strings without missing a beat. The cast brings their A-game to this movie and then some, making Project Power feel more like a big-budget superhero movie than it actually is.

Just like Thanos in Avengers, or Zod in Man of Steel, a superhero movie lives and dies by the quality of its villains. Unfortunately, Project Power limps along with a Big Bad I couldn't care less about, as faceless as the henchmen they hire. Maybe it's a metaphor for the "drug problem"? I don't know, although Jamie Foxx's character tries his hardest to make us care, even if it falls on deaf ears.

The soundtrack slaps, though. Joseph Trapanese's heavy synth and techno score works well in this super-powered universe, and the soundtrack is filled with straight fire from acts like 2Chainz to Chika. As a hip-hop fan, I was satisfied.

For all of Project Power's faults, I have to admit I was entertained, and maybe that's its superpower. If you're just looking for your superhero movie fix, Project Power isn't such a bad use of 2 hours.

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