Project Power review: Jamie Foxx’s pill-popping Netflix superhero movie has surprising heart

Swallowing a capsule in Mission Energy yields unpredictable outcomes.  


You would possibly suppose Netflix’s Project Power sounds a bit of unoriginal. It is a couple of capsule that provides folks a random superpower for 5 minutes, like 2011’s Limitless with some Marvel Cinematic Universe-style flavoring. Nevertheless, the 111-minute journey’s central trio — performed by Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Dominique Fishback — and intelligent use of its New Orleans setting elevate it above a well-known premise.

The film, directed by Nerve’s Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, hits Netflix on Friday. 

Fishback (whom you could have seen in HBO’s The Deuce) performs Robin, a youngster whose life within the Huge Simple is something however as she’s compelled to deal Energy drugs to assist together with her uninsured mother’s medical payments. To outlive the imply streets, she’s solid a quiet alliance with Gordon-Levitt’s Frank, a cop who secretly pops Energy drugs to offer him an edge in opposition to the town’s criminals. 


Jamie Foxx and Dominique Fishback play off one another properly on this Netflix journey.


Robin’s life all of the sudden will get a complete lot extra harmful when Foxx’s Artwork, a former soldier who might or might not be trying to find his misplaced daughter, begins taking down sellers in his hunt for the supply of the Energy drugs.

Screenwriter Mattson Tomlin (who’s co-writing The Batman) infuses every of the three with a humanizing sense of ethical ambiguity as they attempt to survive in an unpredictable world the place folks can briefly wield X-Males-style superpowers, with Fishback’s nuanced efficiency giving it a relatable emotional core. Foxx and Gordon-Levitt carry loads of charisma, and every sparks off Fishback properly.

Additionally working in Mission Energy’s favor is its surprisingly restrained use of each superpowers and the New Orleans setting. You is perhaps anticipating a bunch of element-infused monsters decreasing the French Quarter to rubble like extra typical superhero fare. As an alternative, Joost and Schulman correctly sidestep the apparent, creating their characters and constructing anticipation for the motion.


Flame on! Among the superpowered scenes flip up the warmth.


When somebody takes a capsule, it is like a enjoyable little lottery as their powers manifest: They might get a dose of super-strength or simply self-immolate on the spot. The film easily weaves in exposition that ties the facility to folks’s genetic construction, in order that they’ll get the identical capacity every time.

The vary of powers injects loads of selection within the motion sequences, however hyperactive modifying typically makes these scenes laborious to observe. Probably the most spectacular transformation can also be too darkish to understand totally. Even when it is intentional, these visible selections go away you questioning in the event that they’re masking a change to stunt doubles or weak CGI.

We additionally journey to a pleasant vary of New Orleans areas — from recognizable downtown to residential neighborhoods — making the character’s lives really feel extra grounded and plausible. The lighting additionally takes on a satisfying neon-dripped high quality as night time falls and occasions get a bit of extra fantastical. Joseph Trapanese’s synth-heavy soundtrack provides to the depth, punctuated by the occasional rap tune.

Sadly, our villains are largely fairly flat — Transparent‘s Amy Landecker has loads of presence as a Machiavellian scientist on the head of the shadowy group chargeable for the drugs, however feels underwritten. She’s surrounded by a bunch of typical goons, a few of whom Energy as much as cease the pesky heroes. Not less than Rodrigo Santoro (beforehand seen in Westworld and Lost) brings a little bit of theatrical aptitude as a fabulously facial-haired intermediary pushing the drug to sellers.

Mission Energy is not a very deep film and appears unlikely to arrange a brand new cinematic universe, however it’s bought three heroes you will root for, a enjoyable pseudo-superhero mythology and a trendy setting. It will actually be a straightforward capsule to swallow if you wish to energy up your Friday night time.

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Sean Keane