A Film and TV Review by Tim Riley


“PROJECT POWER” (Rated R) on NETFLIIf not for the presence of streaming services, this summer would turn out bereft of action films that might loosely be described as superhero adventures. Netflix is filling the void, as it did recently with “The Old Guard” reviewed in this column.The Netflix science-fiction crime drama action thriller “Project Power,” rated R for violence, bloody images, drug content and some language, is set in New Orleans where a pill being peddled on the streets offers its users unpredictable superpowers.The street drug, developed by a shadowy organization headed by Dr. Gardner (Amy Landecker), is a luminous capsule that unlocks different superpowers for its users that lasts only five minutes.As with the use of any pharmaceutical, results may vary, and particularly with a drug harvested from multiple species to create what villainous distributor Biggie (Rodrigo Santoro) calls the “next evolution of the human species.”

The Power pill presents a roll of the dice for the consumer. One might burst into flames and manage to burn down a tenement building during a chase. Another becomes invisible and stages a bank robbery that is more interesting during the pursuit.Teenager Robin (Dominique Fishback) is dealing the drug to finance an operation for her mother. When ambushed by street punks for her stash, Robin is rescued by New Orleans detective Frank Shaver (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) with whom she has developed a professional relationship.


Frank relies on Robin for the powerful capsule because he’s willing to buck the system and use the pill as a means to track down the cartel pushing a product that is turning his beloved city into a cesspool of crime.Not surprisingly, Frank runs afoul of his Captain Craine (Courtney B. Vance), who asks for his badge and gun until Frank convinces his boss that cooperating with other government agents hasn’t worked out very well for New Orleans.

To keep his job, Frank must pursue the distribution source, which just might be a former decorated soldier with PTSD and a personal agenda. That person is Art (Jamie Foxx), aka the Major, who is desperately searching for his missing daughter.The paths of Frank, Robin and the Major soon cross, and these disparate characters form an uneasy alliance to rescue the Major’s daughter who is being held hostage by Dr. Gardner on a cargo ship loaded with illicit product. Project Power” has plenty of explosive action, but the most dynamic aspect is the rapport between the Major and Robin, which turns out to be the film’s appealing emotional core.



During the remote summer television press tour, the new streaming service of the Peacock cable network, recently launched by its NBCUniversal parent company, held its first ever presentation of upcoming series in a formal setting.The early 1990’s high school comedy “Saved by the Bell” is being reimagined with an edgier mood and returning several veterans to Bayside High in regular and recurring roles.Elizabeth Berkley’s former class president Jessie Spano is now a guidance counselor at Bayside and mother of the school’s football team captain. Mario Lopez’s sensitive jock A.C. Slater is now the gym teacher.


Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s Zack Morris has become governor of California who’s in hot water for closing too many low-income high schools, so he proposes transfers of affected students to the highest performing schools in the state, including his alma mater of Bayside. In a sign of the changing times, one of the leading student characters is that of the most popular girl and cheerleader Lexi (Josie Totah), who just happens to be transgender. For many reasons, Bayside High is a different place than three decades ago.

Rutherford Falls,” a new comedy series, depicts a small town in upstate New York and the Native American reservation it borders, both of which are turned upside down when local legend and town namesake Nathan Rutherford (Ed Helms) fights the moving of a historical statue. One’s immediate thought is whether this comedy has anything to do with the wanton destruction of statues that have ranged from ones of the Founding Fathers to the abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

The cancel culture is not the issue in “Rutherford Falls.” The statue in question is that of one of Nathan’s ancestors who brokered a “fair and honest” deal with the local Native American tribe.The problem is that the statue stands at the exact spot of the negotiated deal with the fictional Minneshonka tribe, but unfortunately the location is in the middle of a street, which creates a traffic hazard where drivers often crash into the pedestal.

The mayor of the town wants to move the statue from its precarious location, and Nathan Rutherford is resolute in his opposition to a relocation because doing so would be contrary to its historical significance.That Nathan also runs the Rutherford Falls Heritage Museum, dedicated to the history of the town going back to the 17th century, only adds fuel to his fire to fight city hall tooth and nail.