R-Rated Dark Netflix Sci-Fi Thriller Is Over-The-Top Action At Its Best

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Updated

One reason we love Netflix is that, like any good streaming service, the platform offers a lot of options. However, the sprawling catalog can sometimes inspire decision paralysis. To binge something worth your time, consider Project Power—the thrilling, R-rated film weaving together threads of sci-fi, action, and a dash of real-world commentary into a compelling, singular tapestry. 

Superpowers With A Twist

Visionary directing duo Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman shot the 2020 film, sporting a unique narrative penned by Mattson Tomlin; their collaborative efforts engineered a cinematic venture that hooked audiences with its novel premise: a pill granting temporary superpowers. Moreover, the movie admirably grounds its tale in the gritty, vibrant streets of near-future New Orleans. It provides a multifaceted exploration of Power, whether supernatural or societal.

The Pill

Project Power begins in the not-too-distant future, when a new drug, unsubtly termed “Power,” has hit the streets. Said drug offers users a tantalizing yet dangerous proposition: five minutes of pure, unadulterated superhuman abilities. 

We’re talking super strength, invisibility, bullet-dodging—you name it. The catch? The powers are unpredictable and unruly, varying widely from user to user and, most damningly, often accompanied by dangerous side effects (including death). 

Jumping from high-concept sci-fi futurism to the intimate, even sociological fabric of fictionalized New Orleans, Project Power’s principal characters are Art, played wonderfully by Jamie Foxx, a former soldier harboring a vendetta; Frank, the ’90s heartthrob Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a local cop bending the rules to protect the city; and Robin, played commendably by Dominique Fishback, a brainy, resourceful teen dealing drugs to care for her ailing mother. 

Different Motivation

Each character retains their burning desire to locate the source of the Power pills, wreaking havoc in their city. 

For example, Art’s quest in Project Power is incredibly personal. Tracy, his daughter, was kidnapped by the shadowy, nefarious group behind the drug. Born with natural superpowers due to Art’s exposure to experimental drugs during his deployment, Tracy’s unique genetics mean she’s a perfect guinea pig for the manufacture of the power pills. His mission constitutes a desperate rescue opp. 

Whereas Frank, on the other hand, witnesses the devastation the narcotic inflicts on his city. Though Frank employs Power to compete with the criminal underworld, he’s nonetheless, motivated by a sense of duty to halt the drug’s spread and expose those responsible for it. 

Thirdly, Robins’s involvement with Power is initially strictly business; however, her journey grows increasingly intertwined with Art and Franks—evolving her into an integral ally in their crusade. With her quick wit and street smarts, she becomes indispensable. At the same time, her personal growth is a central theme of Project Power

What Makes Project Power Unique

Fusing realism and high-concept sci-fi thematics, themselves borrowing heavily from the superhero universe, the film admirably achieves a simultaneity of genres. In this, it reminds viewers of genre-bending hits like District 9 and Bone Tomahawk. Indeed, at its heart, the movie amounts to more than impressively stylistic, action-packed set pieces, and delves into ethical and moral quandaries posed by its central conceit. 

The streaming feature questions the nature of power beyond the sci-fi drug’s scope—who has it, who wants it, and at what cost. The film scores ethical points, as well, for shining a spotlight on New Orleans. More than a mere backdrop, the city functions as a living, breathing character in Project Power, enriching the film with its cultural tapestry and post-Katrina resilience. All of which offer a poignant context for the movie’s meditation on power dynamics, whether sci-fi or systemic. 

Mixed Thoughts

On the critical side, the movie received mixed reviews, ranging from positive to lukewarm. Critics ardently enjoyed its action sequences, impactful visuals, and performances, principally Fishback’s. That said, experts leveled some criticism at its screenplay, with some suggesting the project’s ambitious premise could have been explored more deeply.

That said, Project Power enjoyed success on Netflix; it became one of the platform’s most-streamed films upon release. Indeed, the streaming service reveals that 75 million accounts streamed the movie within a month of its release. 

Music fans—especially hip-hop aficionados—should consider the film, too, given it features a prominent supporting role by Colson Baker, otherwise known as Machine Gun Kelly, who plays a drug dealer trafficking in Power. 

Stream Project Power On Netflix

jamie foxx

Ultimately, for a sci-fi thrill ride sure to impress with its unique concept and powerful performances, stream Project Power today.