Project Power – review

               To read the film geek room you’d think that ‘superhero movies’ are some great burden that has been holding film back. There are just so many of them. It’s all anyone makes. It’s all anyone talks about. Oh Lord Above, what about the OTHER movies?

Whenever I read these screeds, I can’t decide whether to laugh, or to scream.

Yes, there are a lot of superhero movies right now.

  1. They’re popular – they can appeal to all ages and they are telling sorta timeless stories.
  2. We can finally do these films and do them ‘right’. In that we’ve reached a time when the special effects can capture the powers and battles these heroes wage.

Sure, this is a fad, much like Westerns were, Disaster movies were, raunchy sex comedies were, and on and on. Heck, as a horror fan I know all about fads. Welcome to the movie system – if something hits, then you’re going to see five other versions of the same thing or similar. Some will be poor imitations and others will be decent and some will expand on what was created before and do it one better. We return to the ‘same’ thing over and over because it’s a known quantity and it comforts us. And, honestly, if you like something, why not find other things like that that you dig?

Why do we shame people for the things that make them happy?

Because we’re snobs, we movie geeks.

We’re snobs and bullies.

We want to look down our noses at anything that’s a genre that isn’t OUR preference.

Oh, if only people watched more costume dramas!

Oh, if only the wunderkinds and old masters were just given free reign.

Oh, if only everyone liked what I liked?

Phooey.

The thing these sorts of people miss about superhero movies is that name is a blanket title for 1. something that’s been around for ages (what do we think old Green Hornet or Superman serials were, eh?) and 2. Under the umbrella of ‘superhero movies’ there are a lot of subgenres if you look deeper than the surface.

Why did Black Panther hit? Gee, could it be that it was a both a well-made film and also a story we hadn’t seen on the big screen before? Naw, it was ‘just another superhero movie.

Oof.

As someone that watches the horror fads come and go, and watches the remakes and sequels and imitations float down the river every year all I can offer is – you either dig what you dig or you rage against what you don’t.

I’d rather focus on what I like.

It’s a better use of my time.

               Project Power is a Netflix feature about three people on a collision course in their lives. There’s a young woman dealing a new drug that has hit the streets that gives people one of one of many different superpowers…but only for five minutes. There is an officer fighting the spread of this new and horrifying drug and is fighting fire with fire and using it himself to give himself an edge in the field. And then there is a man who will do anything to find the people behind the creation and propagation of the drug. And behind it all a mystery as to who has created this drug and why are they taking it to the street in such an aggressive move.

               Yes, Project Power can be called a ‘superhero’ movie in the idea that these are people that gain powers, though briefly. I’d say too though that despite all of the action set-pieces there’s also the deep roots o horror here. These powers are not without consequence, to the wielder or the people it’s wielded against. These powers are not fetishized here but are shown as weapons held in dangerous hands, some of the powers even creating literal monsters. The directors focus as much on these horrific aspects as they do the wonderment and that’s one of the major things that sets Project Power apart from some other recent films. This isn’t a movie to show how sexy and wonderful powers are but how dangerous they are when in the wrong – or even right – hands.

All of this is to say that this is a dark, violent action film with high stakes and big set-pieces. This another well made, well-acted Netflix genre film and gives more hope for the future. Dynamic direction and fantastic acting which starts with the young woman – Dominique Fishback – and heads right to the more recognizable stars (Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon Levitt). It’s nice to see these sorts of films being taken seriously from everyone involved and that it’s not considered ‘slumming’ it anymore. Now, this is a big budget action-fest so if you wanna come and just turn your brain off and enjoy the explosions and punch-em-ups then hey, get it! There’s more here though, if you’re interested, and it’s rewarding.

This is a standout film and another that shows how much there is yet to plumb in the superhero genre, for those filmmakers that are interested and those moviegoers that are looking for something a little different.

4 out of 5

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