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'Lift' review: Kevin Hart leads the most boring heist you’ll ever see

Courtesy of Netflix


On paper, F. Gary Gray seemed like the perfect candidate to direct “Lift,” a ludicrous action picture with a massive ensemble of characters trying to pull off an impossible heist. His remake of “The Italian Job” and subsequent dabbles with the “Fast and the Furious” franchise all but confirmed his ability to handle gigantic and borderline outrageous setpieces. And yet, “Lift,” which finds Kevin Hart in another terrible “every-man” leading role, could’ve been directed by anyone within the Netflix arsenal of filmmakers. There’s no style, minimal substance and instead, what we have is a “heist” movie with the world’s lowest stakes that features a rag-tag crew of characters who couldn’t be more stale or wooden if they tried. I question if some wanted to even be here. 

It’s all led by Hart’s charismatic Cyrus (a nod to “Con-Air” perhaps?) who hilariously utters the word “lift” when his crew of international thieves are about to start their latest job. The squad consists of everyone from a master of disguise played with a weird array of accents by Vincent D’Onofrio to Billy Magnussen’s Magnus, a safecracker who uses the song “Chop Suey” to ascertain whether or not a job can be achieved. Supposedly, Cyrus’ crew have built up enough of a reputation to land on Interpol’s most wanted lists, often hunted in the field by Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s Abby, a senior agent who, in another life, was dating Cyrus. Why are they notorious? The script by Daniel Kunka doesn’t seem inclined to answer that question outside a tepid opening prologue that wouldn’t even make the deleted scenes of an “Oceans” movie.

The crew get introduced via weird title cards, though the movie doesn’t establish a solid framework to showcase their skills. We’re just supposed to accept the title and move on even though the chemistry among them sizzles almost instantaneously. Which makes it hard to root for their success after Abby, at the behest of her superior office played by Sam Worthington, offers Cyrus’ outfit a get-out-of-jail free card in exchange for stealing $100 million dollars worth of gold bars from a ruthless crime lord (played by Jean Reno) aboard a 777 passenger flight without getting noticed. 

It’s a wild premise that could have soared with the correct amount of tongue-and-cheekiness, except Hart, in an attempt to dial back his comedic chops, plays everything serious and, unfortunately, he doesn’t make for the most believable action hero. Not to mention he’s got no spark with Mbatha-Raw whose Interpol credentials are there to serve as a character description rather than produce actual results. And the heist doesn’t take any unexpected twists or turns, as everything pretty much goes along as you’d envision with the occasional, albeit predictable, wrench thrown in to stir up some chaos. 

Except the chaos is so minimal and the performances lack the urgency to sell the material. Often, we’re left with horrendous CGI shots of the plane in mid-air doing backflips while the characters are spun around in the midst of throwing punches. A last second effort to re-contextualize the movie comes far too late to make a sizable impact, with everyone, including the actors, checked out and headed for the door. The only thing this movie steals is your time. 

Grade: D

LIFT streams on Netflix Friday, January 12th. 


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