On the streets of New Orleans, word begins to spread about a mysterious new pill that unlocks superpowers unique to each user. The catch: You don’t know what will happen until you take it. While some develop bulletproof skin, invisibility, and super strength, others exhibit a deadlier reaction. But when the pill escalates crime within the city to dangerous levels, a local cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) teams with a teenage dealer (Dominique Fishback) and a former soldier fueled by a secret vendetta (Jamie Foxx) to fight power with power and risk-taking the pill in order to track down and stop the group responsible for creating it.
Set primarily over the course of a single day and night in New Orleans, PROJECT POWER follows an unlikely triumvirate of heroes as they seek to take down Teleios, a shady government organization responsible for the creation of Power — a pill that can either give its users a bespoke, DNA-based superpower for a total of five minutes or kill them instantly.
The film manages to highlight certain real-world truths about power for those who don’t: In a system designed to keep power in the hands of those who have it at the cost of everyone else, any source of power found outside the norm must be nurtured and allowed to flourish by any means necessary.
At the heart of the story are three characters each fighting through their own systems in order to set things right. Robin is a teenage dealer and aspiring rapper trying to make ends meet by pushing Power in the streets of New Orleans. Robin’s phenomenal abilities as an artist aren’t recognized but she highlights a system designed to just tear people down and put them in their place and they have to find your power — a way to break out.
While Robin finds an older brother-like protector in Frank, a friendly but complicated local cop, they essentially work together and use the pills she peddles as a means to upend the power structures within his own police force.
The Koalition spoke to Fishback and Gordon-Levitt’s about their roles, their thoughts on superpowers and superheroes.
“I was so surprised by the level of excitement and attachment I had with Robin when I first read the script. I remember getting the appointment to read for the part and not believing my eyes both Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were already attached,” says Fishback.
The connection she made with her co-stars in those early reads became more evident in the camaraderie they eventually shared off-camera, as well. “Joe and I connected on so many philosophical levels. Family, fame, work ethic, fears. And Jamie was the life of the party. He was the hype man, but he became MY hype man during scenes as well, making me feel like I was more than enough. I remember filming a scene with him and saying, ‘I’m acting with Jamie Foxx right now. This is surreal to me.’ He said, ‘Nah, Nah, I’m acting with YOU.’”
“When you first hear Robin rap, you can understand that’s where her heart is and why she does the things she does. Art is the first and only person who really encourages her and helps her see what she’s always meant to do,” says Fishback.
Gordon-Levitt admits he would’ve taken the role based on Foxx’s involvement alone, but he ultimately found the story to be a welcome antidote to the status quo. “Genre can get formulaic quickly and for a while, it started feeling like a lot of movies were becoming too similar to one another. But the way that Henry and Rel approached shooting this film — it’s going to be a refreshing, fun ride for people to watch,” he says.
Though the film wasn’t initially set in New Orleans, the filmmakers decided on changing the film’s setting to match the location in which they shot and to add a necessary layer of authenticity to a story about a city and a people that have historically suffered at the hands of their government before.
“Henry and Rel as directors have a really good sense of place, and setting, you can see that in their movies,” says Gordon-Levitt. “You watch NERVE, and New York City is like another character in that movie. So, when they said they wanted to really incorporate New Orleans into this movie, I thought it was a great idea. This place is definitely a contender for the most unique city in this country, I think.”
Check out the video above for the full interview.
Project Power releases on Netflix on August 14th.