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Review: 'Project Power' features Jamie Foxx in a fast-paced mashup

August 13, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

PROJECT POWER (L to R) JAMIE FOXX as ART in PROJECT POWER Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX ?? 2020

One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you burst into flames like the Human Torch in "Project Power," one of those Netflix action movies that probably would make some money if released into theaters.

(CNN)One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you burst into flames like the Human Torch in "Project Power," one of those Netflix action movies that probably would make some money if released into theaters.

The undercooked plot works just well enough to fuel this vehicle for Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, mashing up old movies in a fast-paced package.

Gordon-Levitt plays Frank, a New Orleans cop who has begun secretly taking the drug -- which he acquires from Robin, who's dealing it -- seeking to level the playing field against the sudden onslaught of super-powered criminals.

Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (a. k. a. Henry & Rel), the team behind "Catfish" who also directed a pair of "Paranormal Activity" sequels, "Project Power" makes good use of the New Orleans backdrop and shrewdly connects the problematic history of the drug war to the superhero motif, giving the movie the vague sense of relevance.

Based on Mattson Tomlin's screenplay, the old-movie inspirations are almost too numerous to mention, although Foxx's character owes a debt to Brian De Palma's "The Fury" as a father forced to put his special skills to use.

The action scenes do have a kinetic energy, with much of the tension coming from the ticking-clock scenario, since surviving a super-powered attack can mean fending off an opponent until he (and it's almost always he) loses his chemically enhanced advantage.

The movie clearly feels targeted to a demographic that's fine shooting first and worrying about plot points later, fitting into a genre Netflix has gradually explored that offers big stars and blockbuster-like elements without quite entering that tier.

Taken together, these movies reflect a slightly different meaning of this one's title, underscoring Netflix's goal of projecting its power in the movie realm.

To the extent the latest film delivers on the relatively simple formula that it sets out to replicate, consider "Project Power" just muscular enough to get that job done.

"Project Power" premieres Aug. 14 on Netflix.

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