PROJECT POWER and The Power of Foxx
Updated: Sep 5, 2020
Project Power is the latest original Netflix movie to hit our small screens during the current state of the global pandemic. Dropping just in time for summer blockbuster season on August 14, 2020 on Netflix. It’s an interesting take on a superhero genre. But ultimately falls flat thanks to a derivative plot line and cliched genre tropes. Think Limitless (the Bradley Cooper thriller that had people popping pills to fully utilize their brain) meets a schlocky B-movie version of X-Men. Jamie Foxx plays Art/The Major, an ex-soldier with a hidden agenda looking for the source of these superhero ability altering pills. He tracks a young drug dealer, played by charming young actress Dominique Fishback (The Deuce), and gets entangled with New Orleans detective Frank played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception).
The silliest aspect of the movie is the “power” these pills give the user for 5 minutes, which consists of animalistic survival abilities from various animals like snakes, armadillos, and wolverine frogs. Yes, you read that right. Wolverine frogs. At one point, a villainous character forms stabbing blades that sprout out of his skin from his bones. The movie is essentially a conspiratorial wild goose chase to find out who’s dealing these “power pills” and to shut down and eliminate the source. Yet as silly as this movie seems to be, it’s only saving grace is the charming and demanding physical on screen presence of Foxx, as well as the odd couple banter and chemistry of Foxx and Fishback (Fishback delivers a memorable flow when she is put on the spot by Art to see if she can really rap).
Ditto Gordon-Levitt, who plays a mostly honest white cop (something of a major social issue in these times) that’s actually held accountable for his abuse of power (he pops the power pills while on duty and is effectively chewed out by his superior). Seriously though, where has he been? I don’t remember seeing him in anything since Snowden or Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, both from 2016. And I forgot just how lovable and relatable he is, even when playing grittier action roles. Hopefully, this is a stepping stone for his inevitable action movie comeback. Dominique Fishback is something of a revelation in this film. She has spunk and confidence in a role that is initially a female victim, but Fishback gives the character agency and turns her into a heroine. Again, I mainly remember her playing a prostitute in HBO’s The Deuce so it is nice to see her in a different context. Her future is bright.
But the real story here is Jamie Foxx. Here, Foxx reminds us that he is a reliable leading man in a drama, comedy, and especially, an action movie. I still remember him from In Living Color, The Jamie Foxx Show, and Booty Call. But if you look at his filmography (it is pretty prolific), he has a consistent track record of action movies spread throughout his career. From Bait in 2000, Collateral, Stealth, Miami Vice, The Kingdom, to Law Abiding Citizen in 2009. Even the misfire of Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 showed his depth in a superhero movie. He has still remained relevant from 2000 until now. In 2012, when Will Smith notoriously turned down Tarantino’s offer to play the titular role in Django Unchained, Tarantino’s next on the list was Foxx. And Will Smith was one of the world’s biggest movie stars. So what does that say about Foxx?
From 2017-2018, at age 50, Foxx made three action movies in a row (Sleepless, Baby Driver, and Robin Hood), so it’s easy to take the man’s talents for granted. His on screen charm, charisma, and physical & athletic presence is rare for one man to have and it puts him on par with megastars like Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt. He’s not just a fantastic black action star. He’s a phenomenal action star period. And one with such range to play heavy drama and lighter comedy. The reason he isn’t at that top level yet, in my opinion, is his inconsistency in choosing relevant movies. But he’s not far off. The Foxx Team needs to step it up and put this man in a franchise from Marvel or Star Wars. And stop putting him in forgettable B-movies where people trash the movie yet praise his performance.
Project Power is now streaming on Netflix.