Director F. Gary Gray calls back to his days as an acton-thriller filmmaker with Lift, a heist movie that aspires to be an airborne version of Gray’s remake of The Italian Job.  However, that former influence was an entertaining and accessible thrill ride with enough charisma to boot.  Lift , the complete opposite, is an expensive-looking, self-serious knockoff; hampered by a convoluted plot and absent camaraderie among the cast.  The only thing this empty-headed flick will do for anyone is possibly drive up their Netflix subscription rate.

Produced by Kevin Hart’s production company Hartbeat with aspirations to assumably become Netflix’s own Ocean’s franchise, the Ride Along comic fills in the lead role of suave criminal mastermind Cyrus Whitaker. Cyrus and his go-to team of crooks are closely observed by Interpol, but they haven’t been caught. That is until Interpol agent Abby Gladwell (Gugu Mbatha-Raw of Netflix’s Irreplaceable You) pieces together evidence that could finally be the end to their string of crime. However, when a larger threat has plans to take $500 million in gold by plane, Abby recruits Cyrus and his crew to intercept the transaction in exchange for clean records.

Lift is only concerned about its image: the high stake choreography of a slick plan, the stock special effects, the exotic globetrotting, snappy nicknames for our anti-heroes to convince audiences that the characters are experienced and cool, a drawn-out and predictable romantic arc between Cyrus and Abby, Hart trading in his signature comic relief for designer clothing and model poses. However, for all of the film’s efforts, the movie amounts to a lot of transparent showboating. Probably to distract attention away from how weak Daniel Kunka’s writing is.

To fix Lift would mean more screenplay drafts and more rehearsals but, given what at-home streamers end up watching, a “Hail Mary” move would’ve involved more awareness on the production’s part. Lift didn’t exactly need to nudge the audience but a looser and more comical attitude could’ve assisted with glossing over nonsense heist logistics and thin character dynamics.


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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