“Project Power” leaves viewers with questions

Marlee McAbee, Volunteer Writer

“Project Power,” which released to Netflix on Aug 14, is a film about a man trying to save his daughter, but with a few added twists. Starring Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, it features high-intensity action, but does not exactly hold up to scrutiny.

The premise of the film is that there is a drug on the streets of New Orleans called “Power,” which grants the user some kind of power for five minutes. Everyone has a different power. Some people, however, are simply killed by it. The main characters are Art “the Major”, played by Foxx, a high-school drug dealer named Robin, played by Dominique Fishback, and a police officer named Frank, played by Gordon-Levitt.

The casting of this movie is excellent. The backstory is where things get shaky. Apparently New Orleans was decided on to be a trial run for this drug. Why does the government allow this, though? And why did they want to mass produce and release such an unstable drug? These are not very well explained questions.

The driving force behind Art’s character is rescuing his daughter, who was kidnapped to be used to synthesize Power. She has special powers due to, apparently, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This is not very well explained, either. She is able to heal people. Again, the “how” is not very clear.

The background message of the movie is to fight against the system. Why the system deserves to be dismantled, however, does not ever get discussed. Robin wants to give up on school because she does not “fit”; her plan is to instead be a rapper. To be fair, her teacher does shame her with her poor grades in front of the entire class, which I am fairly sure is not allowed.

Frank, the police officer, uses Power because he thinks it levels the playing field between him and criminals. To this end, he takes the pill, which gives him inhuman strength and makes him bullet-proof, and goes alone into a hostage situation in a bank, Simply because “some guys in suits” told him not to. Going alone into a hostage situation does not seem like a great idea, but is apparently fine, as long as you are acting out of righteous fury, or something like that. That being said, the follow up to the hostage scene does provide the film with its greatest line of dialogue: “Has anyone seen an invisible man?”

The relationship between the characters is almost nonsensical at times. For example, Art kidnaps Robin and throws her in his trunk, followed by him threatening to kill her sick mother if she does not give him the information he needs and knowingly sends her into a dangerous situation as a “mine rat.” However, only a little while later, he tells her about trying to save his daughter and she decides to join him with all previous transgressions apparently forgiven.

Exposition in the movie is done in all of the usual ways, such as flashbacks and a radio DJ giving news updates. This is admittedly a little heavy-handed, especially because this focuses more on the details the viewer already understands well enough, but not on the questions one might raise.

The concept of the Power pills themselves sounds like a writing prompt one might find online, and is not developed very well beyond that. The powers apparently come from animals. Some of the powers do make sense, such as speed and thermal regulation (up until those with the thermoregulation Power are somehow able to create ice), but others come completely out of left field.

Despite logical inconsistencies throughout the film, it is highly entertaining. The characters are lovable when they are not threatening murder to get their way, and the overall production quality is excellent.

Something I enjoyed was the lack of romantic subplot. There was no attempt to force any characters together. The relationships forged are more familial than romantic, which is not seen very often in movies, let alone action movies.

“Project Power” is not a bad film, and is definitely one I would recommend. Just as long as the viewer does not try to question it too much.