thu 24/09/2020

Project Power - so-so attempt to reinvent the superhero genre | reviews, news & interviews

Project Power - so-so attempt to reinvent the superhero genre

Project Power - so-so attempt to reinvent the superhero genre

Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star alongside Dominique Fishback in fun thriller set in New Orleans

What if there was a pill you could pop that gave you superpowers? The only catch is that, while it might make you invisible or bullet-proof, it might also boil your brain or make you explode with just one hit.

What if there was a pill you could pop that gave you superpowers? The only catch is that, while it might make you invisible or bullet-proof, it might also boil your brain or make you explode with just one hit.

That’s the premise of Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s serviceable new sci-fi thriller by Mattson Tomlin. The concept isn’t as original as it needs to be, and it has a lot in common with 2011’s Limitless or Luc Besson’s Lucy, combined with the extreme violence of Deadpool.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jamie Foxx might get top-billing, but the real star is Dominique Fishback as Robin, a spit-balling teen trying to help out her sick mom and find a way to beat the system by pushing this new wonder-pill. 

We get vivid day-dream sequences as she imagines a life where she has the power to escape her surroundings, using her gifts as a rapper rather than a streetwise drug-pusher. As Jamie Foxx’s character puts it in one scene: “You’re young, black and a woman – the system is designed to swallow you whole.” Robin knows this, but she’s also young, black and talented, and isn’t going to be bound by a society that has left her behind. 

Set against the backdrop of a post-Katrina New Orleans, there is an added, albeit thin, layer to the film examining the knock-on effects for the city and surrounding area after the events of 2005. Gordon-Levitt’s character’s dialogue is laced with blatant references to this which, although lacking any subtlety, remind you that many more died from the ensuing destruction and poverty than were killed directly by the category five cyclone. 

Sadly though, this is merely a backdrop to what is ostensibly a bare-bones superhero adventure. There are some fun superpowers. One character morphs into a grotesque Mr Hyde-like monster and there’s a creative sequence involving a woman trying to control her "just like Frozen" superpowers, with some strong camera work from DOP Michael Simmonds.

It might have a little more meat on the bones than a film like X-Men Origins: Wolverine or other tired superhero films, but not enough to sate your appetite. Nice idea, well-enough executed, but far from original. 

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters