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Review: Pills grant superpowers in ridiculous but entertaining 'Project Power'

Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in Netflix action title

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

Superpowers are just a pill away in "Project Power," a sharp-humored action romp with the good sense to not take itself too seriously. 

Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in this New Orleans-set thrill ride, about a drug that gives users superhuman strengths and abilities, but only for a period of five minutes. It also has some unpredictable side effects, and sometimes causes users to explode into a ball of flames. As one pusher slyly remarks, "results may vary." 

Jamie Foxx in "Project Power."

Foxx plays Art, who's looking to track down the source of the pills — known as "Power" — in order to retrieve his daughter. Gordon-Levitt is Frank, the kind of New Orleans cop who wears a Saints jersey and carries his badge around his neck, who is looking to shut down the makers of Power and is thrown off the force for popping a few of the pills on his own, all in the name of research. 

They team up, along with a teenage Power dealer, Robin (Dominique Fishback), who dreams of being a rapper. Art puts her to the test and asks her to flex her freestyle skills, and she does so impressively, and it's those kinds of touches that make "Project Power" an entertaining diversion, if not an altogether tight piece of storytelling. 

Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman — they made the original "Catfish" a decade ago — give "Project Power" a slick look and nimble feel, even if the premise is pure absurdity. 

Give Gordon-Levitt credit for dialing into the film's off-center vibe; a scene where he tells off a pair of shadowy agents while dressed only in a towel and pretending to have just come out of the shower is a good representation of "Project Power's" loose grip on reality, which it ultimately uses to its advantage, and its power. 

'Project Power'

GRADE: B

Rated R: for violence, bloody images, drug content and some language

Running time: 113 minutes

On Netflix

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama