Project Power is another Netflix original movie with an A-list cast of stars and a moderately large budget.
Spree on the other hand is a smaller budget movie with a cast of lesser known stars and went straight to VOD, not Netflix and with very little advertising.
What connects these two movies is actor Joe Keery, the guy on Stranger Things. The one with the large hair. Yeah, that guy.
I know, it’s a bit of a stretch but I thought it was worth mentioning. Nowadays Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon has become Six Degrees of Netflix.
They aren’t perfect films, both suffering from different issues. With Project Power I think that has to do with bad writing in spots.
With Spree I think they were limited not only by their budget but also the way the story is told.
Project Power is your standard run of the mill action movie, Spree on the other hand is told via webcam or live streamed through a smartphone.
At this point, not the most novel way to tell a story, as it has been done several times, and even recently with the release of Host, a Shudder original about a group of friends in quarantine, communicating by computer, doing a séance.
You can imagine what happens next.
I might bring that movie up again once Horror Month comes around.
Anyway, let’s move back to Project Power, as I liked this film less than I had hoped.
It had all the trappings of a fun watch, but somehow landed with a mediocre splat.
I liked the idea of everyone having their own unique special power, but only this pill can bring it out of you.
However, that isn’t what happens. You don’t have a unique power like the film says, but one the pill chooses based on some animal or fish ability. To me, that’s less interesting, especially since there’s only about 5 different abilities you can get.
And one being turn into a troll or something… I don’t know. It just wasn’t as interesting as I thought.
While I’m still on it, I kind of hate the title Project Power. I know the original title was just Power and in the scheme of things, calling it Project Power does make sense as it relates to the story. But still, they could have called it something else and have been more memorable.
A few years ago, Playstation had original content, one being a superhero series called Powers that starred Sharlto Copley.
Think The Boys but with a much smaller budget. Not sure if they changed the name to Project Power based on that show or not, but it makes sense to do so. Even if no one has heard of the series.
It did run for two seasons I think, so someone had to of watched it and remembered it.
Project Power is kind of split up into two stories, one half is about Jamie Foxx’s character Art trying to find his missing daughter.
The other half is about Frank, a detective taking the Power drug to give him superpowers to take on the people using the drug to commit crimes.
These two stories really have nothing to do with each other and they don’t exactly do a very good job combining them either.
Honestly, I was debating why Frank, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character, was even in this. Like what purpose did his character serve towards the story?
That also brings me to Robin, the young female drug dealer and wannabe rapper that connects these two. I really can’t see the point in her character either.
You kind of see her as this daughter replacement figure for Art but his daughter isn’t dead, just missing.
Really if you exclude her from the story, it kind of fixes a few things.
How about instead of her, we just have the drug dealer Newt be related to Frank in some way, so when Art goes after him, resulting in Newt dying, Frank sets out on a revenge plot.
That way it brings Frank into this story a bit more competently.
Also what needed to happen was make Art seem more like a bad guy. You needed to be confused with his allegiances. Is he good? Bad? What’s his goal? That way it gives Frank more of a mission. Stop this killer.
We don’t get that. We get maybe a tiny morsel of that when Art has to threaten Robin to get her to cooperate. Make us actually believe he’d kill her and her mom if she didn’t do what he said.
In Spree, our main character is Kurt or Kurt’s World as he likes to advertise himself as.
The story to Spree couldn’t be more different than Project Power’s.
Kurt desperately wants to be famous. All he wants in the world is to go viral, but nothing he does seems to grab anyone’s attention.
That’s when he comes up with “The Lesson”.
The Lesson is how to get internet famous. That being mostly go on a killing spree. A killing spree while you live cast it for everyone to see.
Like I mentioned, Spree is told solely through either Kurt’s phone or cameras he has setup throughout his Uber-like car service where he picks up passengers and takes them to their destinations.
One thing I can say is that Joe Keery does a really fantastic job here as fame obsessed and murder happy Kurt. He’s basically playing every douchetuber you’ll find on YouTube.
It reminded me a lot of this character Kyle Mooney plays on SNL sometimes. Which is convenient since Kyle Mooney has a small part in this as a creep stand up comedian.
I’m not sure who watches douchetubers or why they watch them. I guess it’s rich porn, where these dickbags brag about how rich they are, showing off all their clothes, cars, shit like that that only kids would be envious of.
Either way, Kurt is the personification of every attention seeker on YouTube that I hate. He’s so pathetic, you almost want to feel sorry for him. But you can’t because, well one he’s killing random people. But also he’s just so annoying.
Kurt works as a Spree driver, see, title is a double entendre.
What I love is the fact that he has this plan, this surefire plan to get views. Kill people. But even then no one is watching or cares.
It isn’t until he murders his more successful friend, also a mega douchetuber, poaching his viewers, that Kurt’s deranged plan starts to garner views.
He has drugged the bottles of water for the passengers, knocking them out. Though we don’t see what happens next for at least two of them.
It’s only when Bobby his only friend and actual successful streamer suggests Kurt amp things up because it’s boring do we actually get to see him start killing people.
While on the job, he picks up a young female comedian that has a pretty strong online social media following. Unfortunately, he also has this raging dickhead in his car, so any plans he has to kill her go unfilled.
But he does kill the dickhead by running him over.
Since killing these random people aren’t grabbing peoples attention, it hits him. Kill those who already have a following.
First on his list, Bobby. Kurt knows Bobby because he used to babysit him as a kid. But now Bobby has a popular following and refuses to host Kurt’s murder spree.
So obviously he must die.
While both are streaming, Kurt runs a knife through his chest, hijacking his stream.
After that, he must put The Lesson on pause because his deadbeat junkie DJ father needs a ride to a gig.
His father is played by David Arquette, who is damn good in this. He’s done so much crap that you forget just how good he can be.
While at the stripclub, yes the gig is at a stripclub, Kurt meets Uno, a Korean pop star that Kurt desperately wants to get a shoutout from.
She refuses, but then teases a shoutout if Kurt drives her to get tacos. Being the clout seeker he is, he agrees. But she drinks one of his dosed waters, knocking her out.
Looking a bit suspicious, cops pull Kurt over and ask him a few questions, thinking he’s drunk. But Uno wakes up in a fright, shooting a cop, giving Kurt time to flee.
This part was slightly confusing as I wasn’t sure how the cops started pursuing Kurt. Last time I checked they were after Uno.
Anyway, giant chase happens and Kurt wrecks his car.
Don’t fret though, as he manages to grab a new car, driving to the comedy club Jessie, the young female comedian is performing at.
One thing I forgot to mention, Uno got famous because of a leaked sex tape. Now Kurt’s mission to get famous has changed. Now instead of killing people to go viral, he plans on making a sex tape with Jessie. If she agrees to it or not.
Now back to Project Power.
I don’t really understand why we have so much of Robin in this, the young female drug dealer. Her story is the least interesting of the bunch, and they spend so much time with her.
Her deal is, she’s a wannabe rapper. She hates school and plans to kick off that rapping career once all this highschool stuff is over with.
Her mom is also sick. I can’t remember what exactly she has, just that she needs medicine and to help pay for it, she deals Power.
So Power, I didn’t mention exactly what that is. Its design is actually really interesting. I like that you’re basically swallowing this LED light that you have to twist to activate.
They must do irreparable damage to your insides.
The drug allows you to access an ability found in some animals or fish life. But you can only use that power for about 5 minutes.
I’m not sure what fish gives you the ability to set yourself on fire or breathe ice, but whatever.
Art is seeking his daughter, going to a dealer known as Newt. When he takes Power he becomes the Human Torch.
Another interesting touch, after taking the pill, your body changes or scars from it. Newt sets on fire and had burns throughout his body because of it.
Another guy, who I mentioned turns into this large troll thing, he has saggy skin, like he used to weight 500 pounds but hit that Keto game hard.
Frank, our bulletproof super cop, he gets massive welts and scars from each time he has been shot.
Little touches like that I enjoy. However, it makes you wonder just how worth it is it to take this drug. They even mention that a lot of times when a person takes it, they just explode.
That does not sound like a drug I’d drop $500 on.
Newt takes a handful of Power, overdosing.
But leads Art to Robin when she dials him to get a resupply of Power.
Art tracks her down and forces her to take him to a safe house where they I guess survey the progress of the drug.
You see, the drug is going through a field test, kind of working out the kinks before mass producing it. At least I assume that’s their goal. It’s kind of unclear.
Art gets wounded pretty badly and needs medical attention, getting Robin to take him to a vet where she patches him up.
Meanwhile in a completely different story, Frank is caught using Power as he breaks orders and goes it alone to stop a bank robbery from a man that can turn invisible, kind of like a gecko.
Instead of the police chief firing him, Frank is tasked with finding Art, so the guys in suits can be happy… I don’t know. Again, it’s kind of unclear who these black suits guys are. I know they work for the company making Power and putting it on the streets, but why are the police taking orders from them?
So that’s Frank’s motivation. Later on, it does change once Robin calls him for help. But the connection between these two different stories just doesn’t work for me. They’re so weak and convenient.
Art learns about this big drug deal going down at a nightclub, so he breaks in and stirs shit up. They do this shot where we focus on a girl who has taken Power, giving her freezing abilities. But in the background, Art is having this insane action sequence that we don’t really get to see.
I swear I’ve seen this done before in a movie, but I can’t remember where. It’s on the tip of my tongue too. I was hoping by the time I got to this part I’d have remembered where, but…
Maybe it was from one of the Netflix Marvel series like Daredevil or Punisher, I can’t remember. If you can let me know! It has been driving me nuts.
Moving on, Art is quickly arrested by Frank but is setup by his police chief. Frank and Art make a deal, Art wants to be taken as they are most likely going to take him to the place they are keeping his daughter, so Frank is to follow them and help them escape.
Art used to be in the military, where they did experiments on him, the early stages of the Power drug. The effects on him where carried over to his child, who can use these abilities without taking any drugs.
This makes her incredibly valuable to the company trying to mass produce this drug for the market. I think, again, I’m not completely sure of their mission plan here.
They do eventually find Art’s daughter, freeing her but Art must use his ability to get them free. So his ability is… so I’m having to look this up since I wasn’t exactly sure just what he was doing.
Art has the ability of the pistol shrimp, basically it can produce a shockwave, blasting away everything around it.
So that’s what Art does, he blasts away all the soldiers surrounding them.
I mean, I guess that’s cool.
The question is which film gets what rating?
For both films, I think I’m looking at two solid RENT IT scores. Spree I do recommend more, as I did enjoy this slightly more. Plus it had that unknown element to it. It seemed to just pop out of nowhere. I doubt I even would have noticed it unless Reals mentioned it to me.
Project Power I did have a few more issues. The tone was strange to me, like it was going for this PG-13 R rated movie.
It’s pretty violent at times but also they make sure to cut away from some of the violence. They also seem to have an issue with the word “motherfucker” as twice when someone is about to say it, they are interrupted half way.
It’s pretty strange when you remember all the people you see explode or get impaled onto something.
It also would have been nice if they set you up for a sequel. I was expecting a shipping container filled with Power to wash ashore, meaning this power people plight wasn’t going away.
But instead they just wrap everything up nice and quick, brushing past the fact Frank’s police chief tried to have him killed.
Project Power I feel could have been something great, but was instead something I’m going to forget even exists in like a week or two.
But if you have Netflix, it’s still worth checking out.
All two movies get a RENT IT.
You won’t have to wait too long for my next review as I’ll be back with Bill & Ted Face the Music, a film I was looking forward to, then the second trailer came out and more of the plot was revealed.
I’ll get more into it when the film comes out and my fears are proven true.
Bill and Ted suck, but their daughters are awesome. They are the ones to save the world. Which is what every Bill and Ted fan has been waiting for, right? Right?!!!