Remember the days of summer blockbuster films that were high-concept and low substance? Remember flocking to movie theater on a hot summer day to take a chance on a film that is not a part of a big franchise and enjoy it in the comfort of air conditioning with a large bucket of popcorn? Project Powers would have been that film if we were able to go to theaters, it has actors we recognize and an intriguing premise.
The script by Mattson Tomlin posits that in the near future there would be a pill that would allow people to have short term super powers. The person taking the pill would not know what power they would get, the power would last five minutes and there could be a chance that the person would get no power at all – or worse, the person could experience a side effect like dying, exploding in a ball of flames or freezing to death like Elsa.
As the film opens, we see that the pills are being given away free to drug dealers in New Orleans. There is a cop, Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who is trying to stop the drug dealers. There is also a former military man, Art (Jamie Foxx) who is trying to do the same by cutting off the supply at the origin – he has other intentions also, which are laid out in the film. Gordon-Levitt and Foxx are good in the film, as expected. But, the real star of the film is Dominique Fishback as a world-weary and sad teenager who dreams of a career as a rap artist, but is held back by her responsibilities of taking care of her sick mother. She deals the drug, aptly named Power in order to make extra money to help get medicine for her mom. Amy Landecker is given the thankless job of playing a megalomaniac bent of taking over the world.
I came into the film thinking it was an sci-fi action film, it leans more on the sci-fi than the action. There are some creative and colorful action sequences in the film that are exciting but short. The film does have quite some lulls in it though and that made the two hour running time feel a bit long. This movie isn’t all serious and knows when to have fun – there were bits of the movie that got me laughing. The movie, at times, has the feel of a direct-to-video movie.
I like the idea that the movie presented, it is thought-provoking. If presented with this Power pill, would you risk taking it? What Power do you think you would get? How would you use that power? And in the spirit of being a summer blockbuster, the movie does not spend much time thinking about the premise. That is okay since that is not what this movie is about. It is about entertaining and distracting an audience for two hours. This movie is all about the now and I don’t think it will age well, nor will it be one that I will watch again. But, for two hours, I was decently entertained.
Watched at home, streamed on Netflix.