Review: ‘Lift’

Kevin Hart Tries to Get His “Oceans Eleven” And “Air Force One” On At the Same Time

Say what you want about Kevin Hart (Katt Williams sure is lately), but the comedian/actor lately has been trying to branch out from his “funny, loud, and short sidekick” role he’s been pigeonholed into for most of his career. Taking risks for such films as The Upside, Fatherhood, and the criminally underrated True Story (also done by Netflix), has proved that he’s more than capable of stepping out of his comfort zone when it comes to certain roles. Unfortunately, his latest heist/action thriller Lift doesn’t measure up.

Cyrus (Kevin Hart) is the leader of a group of art thieves who at the beginning of the film showcase each of their talents when they rob (of all things) an NFT from a Banksy-styled artist called N8 (Jacob Batalon). He’s got Denton (Vincent D’Onofrio) the “master of disguise,” Camila (Úrsula Corberó) the pilot, Magnus (Billy Magnussen) the safecracker, Luke (Viveik Kalra) the techie/engineer, and Mi-Sun (Kim Yoon-ji) the hacker make up his team. We are treated to an action scene through a chase sequence through Venice early in the film as they have caught the attention of Interpol agent Abby (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) which showcases once again that director F. Gary Gray knows how to film an action sequence.

Abby manages to catch up with Cyrus and we learn that it’s personal as both of them had a brief “entanglement” while they were both undercover. However, instead of arresting Cyrus, Abby reluctantly has to recruit him to help save the world from a terrorist financier Jorgenson (Jean Reno). Cyrus’ team has to rob Jorgenson of 50 million dollars worth of gold that he’s transporting via air with tight security of muscle-bound henchmen with weapons. If Lift is starting to sound like a Fast and Furious movie, I agree with you. But you just have to roll with the silliness of the pot. If you can suspend your disbelief, you’re in for a treat.

Some of the movie is heist planning like most of these types of films, but surprisingly, Lift has the “heist” take place towards the end of the second act of the film. It then turns into an action film complete with plane fights, shootouts, and secret undetectable by radar planes during the heist and the tone of the film shifts from Oceans Eleven to The Town as everything ramps up to eleven.

While the plot and its craziness is silly in Lift, the execution is impressive. Once again, F. Gary Gray can shoot some action in addition to comedy. As stated before, Hart is playing against type. In Lift, he’s suave, methodical, and great at fighting “straight man” in the film. He might have cracked one joke throughout the entire film. He’s actually able to sell some of the fight scenes thanks to some interesting choreography and stunt work in the film as he’s fighting off terrorists much larger than he is. As good as the execution of Lift is, unfortunately, it’s boggled down by its silly premise. While larger-than-life stunts and craziness work in other franchises, it felt hollow in this film. The finale in the third act while fun and crazy, is very predictable, especially the final moments of the film.

That said, Lift is a fine way to burn through an hour and 45 minutes for some fun, crazy action this weekend. The action set pieces, a “mature” Hart, and a fine supporting cast are worth having a little fun with this weekend.

Lift is currently available on Netflix.