Reel Reviews | Lift

by Charles Kirkland, Jr.

A heist movie with Kevin Hart? Really? We get to see a side of Hart that we rarely get to see in the new
movie from F. Gary Gray, Netflix’s newest effort, Lift.

Cyrus and his crew run some of the most elaborate and stylish heists which they call “lifts” in the world.
The FBI and Interpol both are after them but they can never catch them in the act. Until one day when a
persistent FBI agent named Abby catches one of the crew members after another successful heist. Abby
is happy to have Cyrus in her crosshairs until her supervisor, Huxley decides to recruit Cyrus and his
team for one government-sanctioned lift that will clear their names and set them free. The lift? A $500
million-dollar shipment of gold bars in an airplane en route to a wealthy, murderous, and psychotic

Written by Daniel Kunka (12 Rounds), Lift is an action comedy that stars Kevin Hart as Cyrus and Gugu
Mbatha Raw as Abby, with Sam Worthington, Vincent D’Onofrio, Billy Magnussen, Burn Gorman and
Jean Reno. Lift is directed by F. Gary Gray (Set It Off, Friday).

In 2003, Gray directed another heist movie called The Italian Job. The Italian Job was a remake of a
1969 film that starred Michael Caine. Both of these films have more heart and are more complete
stories than Lift. Lift is lazy in its storytelling and unbelievable in almost every concept.

The chemistry is completely absent between the members of the crew. In Gray’s Italian Job, the crew is
important both as a whole and individually. This film only gives us the names and roles of the members
of the crew almost like an afterthought. Sure, the crew laughs and jokes with each other but we have
no idea why they would work together other than their success. Even the “relationship” between Cyrus
and Abby seems contrived and rote making it hard to accept.

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The lift that is conceived in the movie is entirely implausible. It is more akin to something from the Fast
and Furious franchise than anything that Gray has done before. Even in Set It Off, there was a certain
believability that was built into the story that made the audience able to root for the criminals. In this
film, the audience is given no opportunity to emotionally buy into the film. They simply become
observant passengers upon this thrill ride.

All that being said, Lift is mildly entertaining and has some strong points despite a completely
predictable script. It is fun seeing how this crew is going to pull off this heist, whether Abby and Cyrus
can work things out, and who lives and dies by the end of the movie.

Vincent D’Onofrio is weirdly captivating. Jean Reno is seriously menacing (in far too few doses). And
Kevin Hart is sufficiently smooth as the slick and intelligent leader of the crew, even though being a love
interest to Mbatha-Raw’s character is a stretch in the imagination. Just be advised, if you want to see
the silly funny, and whiny character that Hart has played mostly throughout his career, you won’t get
that in this movie. This is the more serious Hart that we see in True Story or Fatherhood. Still funny,
just muted.

Rated PG-13 for violence and action, suggestive material, and some language, Lift is a fun, mindless,
action comedy that compels you to turn off your brain to enjoy. If you like Kevin Hart, you will like this
film. Just realize the Hart in this movie is nowhere near the Hart in Ride Along or the like.

Lift can be seen on Netflix on January 12.

Grade: C