One of the heroes of Netflix's Project Power can withstand a bullet to the face, so how exactly do his powers work? Joseph Gordon-Levitt portrays a New Orleans cop named Frank Shaver, who investigates an underworld drug operation while getting high on his own supply. Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, Project Power mostly focuses on the world-changing powers of Art (Jamie Foxx) and his daughter Tracy (Kyanna Simone Simpson), but it's the efforts of the determined Art that link the subplots together.
Frank wants to protect his city, which is almost like a supporting character in Project Power. The Netflix film begins with the cop saving a teenager named Robin (Dominique Fishback), who is revealed to be his dealer. Frank is specifically interested in an unregulated drug named Power that transforms users into superheroes for five minutes. Because the odds are stacked against New Orleans and Frank, the NOPD officer consumes Power when situations turn violent. Project Power was written by Mattson Tomlin, who co-wrote the upcoming DCEU film The Batman, and includes the important twist that Power users don't know how the drug will affect them when taking it for the first time.
Frank's powers are thematically linked to the armadillo, a member of the animal kingdom with a protective shell. A mid-movie speech by the villain Biggie (Rodrigo Santoro) reveals that he wants funding for a Power-themed project that will allow humans to fully explore the potential of their DNA. Foxx's Art then interrupts the big speech and wilds out, as he was previously experimented on by Teleios, a company that created the drug. Project Power acknowledges that Art's supernatural abilities match those of the pistol shrimp and that his daughter inherited natural power. As for Frank, his powers are put on display early on during an armed robbery investigation. The cop takes a pill - which immediately kicks in - and he sets his watch timer for five minutes. Exactly three minutes later, Frank takes a bullet to the face, which - under the influence of Power - does nothing as he has essentially grown the protective shell of an armadillo.
Frank later pops another Power pill while trying to get on board Teleios' ship, the Genesis. After doing "the Clint Eastwood thing" inspired by Dirty Harry, he's once again shot within three minutes of consuming the drug. From there, the movie's rules on superpowers become more complicated, as Frank's battle scenes don't seem to align with the five-minute Power premise. He first overpowers a lizard-like Teleois villain (just over five minutes after recovering from gunshot wounds) and then battles another guy as time ticks away on his watch. The filmmakers seemingly cover the appropriate groundwork for new rules that could be introduced in Project Power 2.
In the sequel, it just may be revealed that Frank's abuse of Power has changed the five-minute concept (at least for him). Thematically, this could work as a double-edged sword for the character's arc. Frank doesn't believe that he's doing anything wrong in Project Power since the focal drug isn't officially recognized by the government, yet his rogue mentality and reliance on Power could put others in harm moving forward. If repeated drug usage has indeed delayed Frank's armadillo-like abilities, he could become a true underground figure in Project Project 2; a former cop forced to the fringes of society.