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Kristin Smith

Movie Review

Stop wishing. Start doing. Find your power.

Welcome to Project Power. The latest, hottest drug on the market, The Power Pill can give you five minutes to possess the abilities of your dreams. Want the velocity of a cheetah? The translucence of a creature under the sea? The illuminating ability of the firefly? It’s all available in one tiny capsule.

Art knows this well. In fact, his own daughter, Tracy, is the source of all these capacities. Genetically gifted from a young age, Tracy caught the eye of certain government officials as part of an organization known as Telios. Agents from Telios kidnapped Tracy in broad daylight as her father watched, powerless to stop them. Now, they’re holding her captive as a lab rat, transforming her powers into a trial drug for the New Orleans masses.

But Art isn’t one to give up. A former soldier, Art knows just how corrupt the government can be. And if he has any hope of saving his daughter, he’ll need help. So he pairs up Robin, a brilliant, desperate teen who feels pressured to sell the drug; and Frank, a jaded cop.

Together, they set off to rescue Tracy and to bring down Project Power.

Positive Elements

Robin is a resourceful, kind, brave young woman in a tough situation: She feels compelled to sell the Power pill in order to take care of her sick mother, who needs an expensive surgery. Robin deeply loves her mother and would sacrifice her own life to keep her mom well. She has trouble speaking up for herself, but she gradually finds her voice.

Art is a loving father who will do whatever it takes to rescue his daughter and bring her to safety (including, as we’ll see below, taking out bad guys who stand in his way). Frank encourages Robin to rise above an unjust system and pursue her dreams. He also encourages her not to do so illegally, but to identify the gifts that truly set her apart.

Frank purchases the Power pill to give himself strength against those who only consume it for power and evil deeds. Frank is quick to fight for justice and to protect the people of New Orleans. He also looks out for Robin and gives her a motorcycle.

Spiritual Elements

Robin raps, “Just help me, Lord, to feel your presence.” A young teen girl has the supernatural ability to bring people back to life, and to heal the sick and injured.

Sexual Content

A man takes the Power pill and becomes translucent (his naked, glowing rear is seen from behind). Art jokingly catcalls an attractive woman. Women are seen in crop tops. We see a couple of shirtless guys (including one whose lower torso is wrapped in a towel).

Violent Content

Shady government officials want to test the Power Pill on humans, and they prey on desperate folks who are unaware of the potentially deadly risks involved in being guinea pigs for the potent drug. One man catches fire; a woman freezes to death; another man explodes, his innards and body part hurtling in all directions. Many others are maimed by the drug in different ways.

Men and women engage in hand-to-hand combat and are left in a bloodied mess. People get shot at point-blank range. Open wounds are graphic as blood pours from injuries. Dead, bloodied bodies litter the ground. A man’s fingers get shot off, and blood gushes to the ground. Someone is hit in the head with a pan. A driver hits a man with a car, while another man’s throat is shoved through an icicle.

A man repeatedly has a flashback to crashing his car and watching his daughter being kidnapped by strangers. A man threatens to kill Robin’s mother. Robin is kidnapped, and her tires are slashed.

Crude or Profane Language

God’s name paired with “d–n” once. The f-word is heard four times, the s-word more than 10 times. Other profanities include a few utterances each of “h—,” “b–ch,” “a–,” “a–holes” and “d–n.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

Characters throughout the film desperately seek the Power Pill. Cops need it, citizens want it, and the bad guys live for it. In fact, many people buy and sell this drug throughout the film.

The drug’s “power” is activated when users twist and swallow it. Each person briefly gets a different “superpower,” and multiple 911 calls are received as people begin to exhibit various painfully adverse reactions. A few folks also overdose on the Power Pill (we see one person do this and hear about the rest).

Robin’s mother takes a variety of prescription drugs. In school, Robin and fellow classmates learn about fetal alcohol syndrome. News reporters discuss a possible meth lab explosion. A woman drinks wine. A song we hear refers to “dope” and “weed.”

Other Negative Elements

Corrupt drug dealers claim that the Power Pill has the ability to “topple governments,” and dealers sell it to government officials around the world. A man robs a bank. A teacher publicly humiliates Robin, assuming she is stupid. (Robin curses at him in a daydream.) Art tells Robin that government officials tried to harm him by altering his genetic makeup.

Conclusion

A Netflix original, Project Power is the latest R-rated flick to feature a few unlikely heroes and some devilish villains.

Jaime Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and the young-and-talented Dominique Fishback head up the cast and offer likeable performances as they work together to battle their common enemy. It’s a classic good-guy-versus-bad-guy film with a fun twist: superpowers.

But the real heroism here really has more to do with what’s happening in the hearts of each main character. We watch a father fight for his daughter, as well as a young girl who devotes herself to her sick mother’s care and a cop who’s determined to combat injustice. There are also messages about the importance of bravery, kindness and empathy, along with the reminder that we all have the ability to change the world with the very traits that set us apart.

But while there are diamond-in-the-rough messages buried here, R-rated content makes those positives tough to dig out. Brutal violence, profanity and drug use ultimately undermine this pseudo-superhero project’s empowerment aspirations.

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Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).