Project Power (2020) needed a slightly stronger dosage.

I’ve been playing a lot of “Infamous: Second Son” recently, which really put me in the right mindset to enjoy Netflix’s latest bid to kick-start a blockbuster movie franchise. Drawing inspiration from “X-Men”, “Limitless” and half-a-dozen other existing titles, “Project Power” plays its well-thumbed cards well, even if the deck is worn.

In the near future, the streets of New Orleans are suddenly flooded by a new drug – distributed to dealers for free. The pills give the users an unpredictable superpower which lasts for five minutes. When young dealer Robin (Dominique Fishback) is rescued from a robbery by NOPD Officer Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) – one of her regular customers – she finds herself pursued by Art (Jamie Foxx), an ex-soldier who is seeking the source of the mysterious drug – a source that Frank discovers is linked to a covert government agency seeking a super-soldier serum.

It’s a slick action thriller and the cast is top-notch, with Gordon-Levitt and Foxx as watchable as ever although it’s Dominique Fishback who comes close to stealing the whole film from under her veteran co-stars although it doesn’t quite make the most of its interesting premise. The special effects are pretty impressive and the idea that before a person takes the pill, they have no idea what kind of power they may manifest adds some variety and excitement.

As usual with Netflix originals – and most recently seen with “The Old Guard” – there’s too much of a focus on kicking off a franchise which leads to the initial offering feeling like its pulling its punches and keeping things back for an anticipated sequel. It’s particularly apparent here where the story and characters aren’t particularly deeply drawn presumably to give more flexibility for future instalments. In many ways, it’s the kind of story which would benefit from being explored in an ongoing episodic police procedural rather than a series of movies, although whether it could retain its cast for a lesser project is debatable.

Whichever way you read it, though, “Project Power” is a terrible, bland title which does the film something of a disservice. It may not be ground-breaking but it’s solidly entertaining and has enough ideas that deserve more exploration.