Project Power First Reviews: A Smart Superhero Flick to Scratch that Summer Blockbuster Itch

Critics say Netflix's latest action release earns a passing grade with impressive visuals, a novel genre twist, and a star-making performance from newcomer Dominique Fishback.

by | August 14, 2020 | Comments

From the directors who introduced us to Catfish and the co-writer of next year’s The Batman comes Netflix’s latest fill-in for the summer blockbuster void. Project Power offers a pharmaceutical twist on the superhero genre and stars Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Dominique Fishback, whom critics say steals the movie away from the bigger names – first reviews of the movie highlight her performance above all else. But the film is also mostly recommended as more-than-suitable home viewing with impressive visuals and interesting themes that go beyond the usual comic book fare.

Here’s what critics are saying about Project Power:

Will It Satisfy Our Summer Movie Needs?

Project Power is the type of movie we’ve been missing.” – Julian Lytle, 

“The big-budget popcorn flick you’ve been aching to see. The superhero actioner provides a much-needed cinematic jolt to a barren summer.” – Julian Roman, MovieWeb

“Another ‘blockbuster’ which seems destined to be enjoyed by millions of subscribers in the week after release and then promptly forgotten about forever.” – Patrick Cremona, Radio Times

Jamie Foxx

(Photo by SKIP BOLEN/NETFLIX © 2020)

It’s kinda like Limitless and… Hulk?!

“The early action sometimes calls to mind the overblown Eurotrashy bang of Luc Besson and his ’90s disciples.” – David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

“In the way that movies like Lucy and Limitless are fun [it is] the kind of loony, kinetic thriller that knows it’s all just shenanigans, and leans in.” – Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

Project Power takes the Limitless concept and runs with it to glory.” – Julian Roman, MovieWeb

“It has conceptual similarities to the Bradley Cooper vehicle Limitless…let’s even throw in a touch of X-MenThe MatrixFirestarter and Jacob’s Ladder.” – David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

“Similar to the way that Robocop satirized the convergence of private corporations and law enforcement as the ultimate form of capitalism, [Project Power] explores, in a less satirical manner, what it means to become powerful.” – Douglas Davidson, Elements of Madness

“Of the many movies with which Project Power shares probably too much in common, the most unexpected, albeit perhaps telling, is Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk.” – Todd Gilchrist, What to Watch

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

(Photo by SKIP BOLEN/NETFLIX © 2020)

Is it a little too derivative of those films?

“It’s drawing on so many decades’ worth of pulp clichés that the movie can scarcely bother to pretend it’s anything but a remix.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“It is refreshing, at least, to see a movie that is its own idea, even if many of its tropes are borrowed from the glut of superhero movies.” – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

“They know that the way to mainstream hearts and wallets is…by soothing them with the same candy they’ve grown to love.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times

“Is it even possible for a superpower movie to be truly original anymore? In fact, what makes Project Power entertaining is its canny combination of familiar ingredients in a textured real-world milieu that gives it fresh flavor.” – David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

Courtney B. Vance

(Photo by SKIP BOLEN/NETFLIX © 2020)

What’s the writing like?

“There is enough detail and psychological nuance in Mattson Tomlin’s clever script to make Project Power more intriguing than most of what Marvel and DC have to offer.” – Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post

“The way [Tomlin] weaves in the social commentary of the topics they cover…I loved that from a writing standpoint. This film tackles so much more.” – Sharronda Williams, Pay or Wait

“The film features a pretty strong social commentary on the biased power structure of America, along with systemic racial injustice and corrupt law enforcement.” – Nicola Austin, We Have a Hulk

Could the social commentary have been a little stronger?

“I couldn’t help but see a missed opportunity for a richer, more complex look at what the politically powerful do when the poor gain some power of their own.” – Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

“It feels shallow, unwilling to commit to bigger statements beyond vague suggestions to overcome systemic injustice with Black Excellence.” – Oluwatayo Adewole, The Spool

“The movie’s sexism is predictable and dull; how it navigates race is similarly obvious but a touch more interesting.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times

Project Power

(Photo by © NETFLIX)

Does Project Power impress visually?

“With the aim of maximizing the use of practical effects…there are a number of standout showdowns featuring dramatic powers.” – Nicola Austin, We Have a Hulk

“The visuals one scene offers will have college students studying in film classes for years to come.” – Allison Rose, FlickDirect

“[The] effects fit the world and don’t scream GREEN SCREEN at you like some movies.” – Julian Lytle,

“The VFX, for the most part, are what you’d expect from any major film – except for one scene in the middle. The CGI in this scene is awful.” – Jamal-Dean Grootboom, Independent Online

How Is Jamie Foxx?

“Jamie Foxx is Jamie Foxx. He brings charisma, he brings charm, he gets you entertained…he does a great job.” – Sharronda Williams, Pay or Wait

“Foxx, still a movie star to his bones, imbues Art with both fierce purpose and breezy charisma.” – Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

“Foxx holds the center easily with the kind of imposing physicality and emotional stoicism that has long defined the male savior-redeemers played by John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Denzel Washington and so on.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times

Dominique Fishback

(Photo by SKIP BOLEN/NETFLIX © 2020)

We hear Dominique Fishback steals the movie… 

“The real star of the picture is Fishback…such a natural presence, and it’s great to see a young Black woman showcased this way in a major action film.” – Clint Worthington, Consequence of Sound

“She elevates every scene she’s in. You really feel her absence when she’s not on screen.” – Oluwatayo Adewole, The Spool

“She brings a smile to your face when she’s on screen…this movie doesn’t work without Dominique Fishback.” – Sharronda Williams, Pay or Wait

“She’s this movie’s most reliable power and the only thing you’ll remember about it five minutes later.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“It’s a star-making performance.” – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

“While I could do away with the ‘aspiring rapper’ trope writers always saddle on at-risk black protagonists, Fishback at least tries to make the character her own.” – Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

Rodrigo Santoro

(Photo by SKIP BOLEN/NETFLIX © 2020)

How Are the villains?

“Don’t miss Rodrigo Santoro and Amy Landecker as some amusing bad guys.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“Frank and Art aren’t fighting Thanos or Blofeld, but the drug itself and the havoc it wreaks: crime, bodily harm, crumbling neighborhoods.” – Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post

“Like The Old Guard before it, Project Power has a major villain problem, and the story upon which these more charming elements hang suffers as a result.” – Clint Worthington, Consequence of Sound

“The way they deal with the villains, though very fun and action packed, seems a bit too quick and easy.” – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

“There’s a primary antagonist, sort of, who barks orders but is never explained…I’m sure this was done purposely to set up the sequel.” – Julian Roman, MovieWeb

Will it leave us wanting more?

“I would love to delve deeper into these characters and the origins of the pills, opening up the door for a possible sequel.” – Allison Rose, FlickDirect

“Perhaps the (inevitable) sequel can pack more juice.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“This could be turned into a franchise but it also just works as a standalone. You get to the end and you feel entertained and fulfilled.” – Julian Lytle,

Project Power

(Photo by SKIP BOLEN/NETFLIX © 2020)

So, it’s worth a stream?

“Netflix has indeed found a niche in adrenalized action flicks that’ll keep you entertained during lockdown while providing a little more nuance than you might expect, and Project Power fits right into that niche.” – Steve Pond, The Wrap

Project Power is sleek and stylish enough to make it watchable. And these days, that’s almost enough?” – Sean O’Connell, Cinema Blend

“Since you’re sitting at home, scarfing entertainment on the small screen, there’s an impulse to say, ‘Check this out! It’s good enough!’” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

Project Power [is] an entertaining diversion.” – Adam Graham, Detroit News

Project Power is available on Netflix now. 


Project Power (2020)

Adjusted Score: 73167%
Critics Consensus: Although it wastes some of the potential of its premise, Project Power is a slick, fun action thriller - and features a star-making turn from Dominique Fishback.
Synopsis: A former soldier teams up with a cop to find the source behind a dangerous pill that provides temporary superpowers.... [More]

Tag Cloud

Toys First Look Watching Series TCA Winter 2020 werewolf APB RT21 popular Pride Month Star Wars Fox Searchlight Britbox Academy Awards political drama zombies Chernobyl TruTV MSNBC south america Turner Classic Movies Exclusive Video Ellie Kemper Instagram Live transformers Paramount golden globes heist movie critics dark adventure ABC adenture Rocketman Holidays BAFTA 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards unscripted streaming Columbia Pictures witnail Crackle french franchise royal family japanese Brie Larson casting hispanic heritage month NBA nbcuniversal Cannes TNT Paramount Network ViacomCBS mission: impossible Heroines reviews MTV Film Paramount Plus The CW australia breaking bad NBC supernatural scorecard FX classics FOX kaiju Showtime game of thrones Sci-Fi binge olympics ITV Universal crime japan spanish language canceled TV shows trailers cancelled Disney Plus mutant Hear Us Out Character Guide GoT Trailer theme song series all-time universal monsters Endgame disaster Universal Pictures child's play vampires emmy awards Animation Fox News Women's History Month comic book movies leaderboard Red Carpet spider-verse directors cartoon young adult dexter Dark Horse Comics The Academy legend Mudbound CMT scene in color dramedy AMC dreamworks mockumentary Podcast Tumblr diversity TV Land DirecTV biography aliens FX on Hulu Rocky 93rd Oscars Comedy Central Pirates Arrowverse sopranos italian 99% LGBT canceled archives dc children's TV Music Sundance TV marvel comics indiana jones Trophy Talk Shudder Logo joker know your critic SXSW Freeform VOD Sundance Now 71st Emmy Awards festivals AMC Plus ID halloween 72 Emmy Awards Best and Worst critic resources robots science fiction YA Mary Tyler Moore The Purge Esquire anthology documentaries 007 BET revenge Video Games ABC Family 2016 Black Mirror Grammys cancelled TV series Bravo video X-Men singing competition jurassic park superhero Drama Interview documentary Horror 20th Century Fox IFC zombie Opinion docudrama serial killer black comedy Peacock Calendar Amazon Prime basketball reboot spain Anna Paquin international Creative Arts Emmys blaxploitation space new york harry potter Pop BET Awards saw Acorn TV USA Network Classic Film Apple TV+ Nickelodeon thriller Rom-Com video on demand Food Network GIFs Lucasfilm golden globe awards Tarantino Black History Month award winner Image Comics SundanceTV strong female leads San Diego Comic-Con Disney+ Disney Plus psychological thriller cancelled television obituary Mary Poppins Returns Lifetime Christmas movies prank Masterpiece Apple Disney HBO Max natural history Comics on TV movies CNN Premiere Dates 21st Century Fox cooking Christmas news doctor who Teen Mary poppins Pixar Syfy Reality Writers Guild of America TV One psycho WarnerMedia Emmy Nominations Infographic ghosts festival true crime films stop motion TIFF Amazon Prime Video PBS concert hidden camera TLC miniseries Martial Arts ABC Signature comedies book feel good Ovation black Funimation wonder woman GLAAD Hulu boxoffice Star Trek Amazon latino cults 2020 comiccon venice The Walking Dead Kids & Family halloween tv scary movies Valentine's Day Summer live event teaser Quiz politics fast and furious adaptation comic book movie deadpool New York Comic Con FXX worst movies tv talk Fall TV Holiday book adaptation rt archives sequel twilight toronto Comic Book CBS pirates of the caribbean sitcom monster movies Television Critics Association 1990s TCA Awards blockbuster Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Adult Swim talk show Family The Arrangement elevated horror debate Biopics new zealand Netflix Christmas movies james bond Rock Sundance war boxing romantic comedy Discovery Channel medical drama Pop TV BBC nature die hard laika HBO hist nfl Spectrum Originals dragons screen actors guild Extras aapi 45 See It Skip It king arthur quibi Neflix TBS Sneak Peek target christmas movies Binge Guide Awards cats stand-up comedy football TCM biopic facebook Amazon Studios National Geographic television spy thriller comics comic books sports TV mcc BBC America 90s Hallmark Christmas movies IFC Films Alien remakes cars indie game show vs. RT History Western Warner Bros. rotten blockbusters Set visit Certified Fresh Marvel Oscars The Walt Disney Company PlayStation slasher asian-american VH1 anime CBS All Access Legendary genre Musical gangster American Society of Cinematographers YouTube Premium Stephen King marvel cinematic universe Avengers romance dogs Mystery Sony Pictures high school best Box Office Pet Sematary The Witch Film Festival discovery Schedule Comic-Con@Home 2021 cinemax finale Trivia criterion Spring TV OWN A24 Lionsgate Shondaland Superheroes Broadway animated Turner WGN Year in Review Ghostbusters E3 parents Nominations justice league Crunchyroll Marathons SDCC First Reviews police drama hispanic TV movies Travel Channel TV renewals superman 2018 Netflix chucky mob OneApp Nat Geo DGA Country what to watch YouTube Captain marvel NYCC Election Emmys Awards Tour Elton John E! independent rotten movies we love rt labs 4/20 73rd Emmy Awards Vudu richard e. Grant slashers travel Cosplay cops History Marvel Television HBO Go Song of Ice and Fire Hallmark ratings Comedy king kong A&E comic Super Bowl rom-coms 24 frames jamie lee curtis social media versus Superheroe action-comedy Action Fantasy Photos name the review scary period drama toy story green book based on movie Walt Disney Pictures docuseries YouTube Red Reality Competition spider-man stoner fresh live action VICE President crime drama renewed TV shows razzies PaleyFest Starz Baby Yoda movie CW Seed Wes Anderson MCU suspense crossover USA Polls and Games Tomatazos Countdown TCA dceu DC Universe spanish new star wars movies batman historical drama hollywood crime thriller lord of the rings LGBTQ cancelled TV shows Spike spinoff Epix Fargo art house IMDb TV Television Academy satire sag awards women DC Comics Marvel Studios Disney streaming service posters rt labs critics edition 2015 Cartoon Network worst 2017 2019 DC streaming service Winners trophy Tubi kids El Rey ESPN godzilla Apple TV Plus Pacific Islander sequels technology TCA 2017 Thanksgiving kong Tokyo Olympics free movies Chilling Adventures of Sabrina foreign telelvision zero dark thirty a nightmare on elm street Winter TV composers Disney Channel screenings Lifetime BBC One Mindy Kaling streaming movies Musicals 2021