Review: Netflix’s ‘Lift’ Movie Experiences Turbulence but Sticks The Landing

In a family of television and movie lovers, we’re always looking for our next movie or show to binge. While my mother and I tend to go for fantasy or drama, my nephew is always down for the latest action flick, chasing an adrenaline high for bigger and bigger fights and stunts. That’s not to say that the rest of us don’t enjoy a good action movie, but if my nephew had it his way, we’d be riding along with The Fast and The Furious all the time. If it’s not action, then it’s comedy, what can I say, he likes to go fast and laugh hard. So when Netflix’s newest Action-Comedy film, Lift, arrived on the streaming service late last week, it seemed like the perfect selection for our Friday night pizza movie.

The team behind Lift

Written by Daniel Kunka (12 Rounds) and directed by F. Gary Gray (Friday, The Italian Job, The Fate of the Furious), Lift seemed like the right mix of comedy and action behind the camera. Pair that with leading man Kevin Hart, one of the biggest comedians of this generation, and Lift was set to fly. 

Joining Hart on screen are Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Vincent D’Onofrio, Úrsula Corberó, Billy Magnussen, Jacob Batalon, Jean Reno, and Sam Worthington. With so much talent behind this film, Lift should have been smooth sailing. But with a slow start to the film and a shaky middle act, the only thing saving this film is the landing. Continue on for more about Netflix’s Lift.

[Warning: Spoilers from Lift are below!]

Kevin Hart: Mastermind Thief Extraordinaire 

Cyrus (Hart) is the James Bond of heists. Yeah… you read that right. At least, that’s what he and the film want you to believe. As the leader of a crew of thieves, he’s the face that’s plastered on all the Most Wanted posters. When Lift opens, we find Cyrus involved in the kidnapping of an artist in Venice, who is attempting to sell an NFT for millions of dollars. However, his heist is not the only one happening at the exact time, as his crew is also working to steal a Van Gogh in London. These two acts might seem like they aren’t connected at first, but with Cyrus at the helm, eventually, they do come together.

While Hart’s character is the face of Lift, he’s nothing without the rest of his team. Sure he might be the brains of the operation, but everyone has their roles that keep the business afloat. Denton (Vincent D’Onofrio) is an inside man, who adapts to the situation at hand through disguises. Camila (Úrsula Corberó) is the pilot of the team, helping to secure safe getaways after their missions. Safecracker Magnus (Billy Magnussen) can break into anything, which is crucial when you’re stealing expensive and well-protected art and jewels. And finally, there’s Luke (Viveik Kalra), the engineer of the operations.

Lift- Cyrus and Abby
Abby (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Cyrus (Kevin Hart). Lift. Image courtesy of Netflix.

Every member is integral, working as a well-oiled machine to achieve success. However, one mishap in this first heist leads to bigger problems. Abby (Mbatha-Raw) an Interpol Agent has arrested Denton, hoping to take the group down. However, her boss, Commander Huxley decides to use them to his advantage and bring down Lars Jorgenson (Jean Reno), a criminal mastermind who looks to destroy the world.

Cyrus and his crew must learn to get along with law enforcement and work as a team, as the mission to arrest Jorgenson is their most difficult task to date. There are no rules high in the sky, which means that anything goes, but the dangers are even scarier than on the ground. Can Cyrus’ team pull off the high-flying feat, or are they destined for an emergency, and untimely, landing? You’ll have to check out Lift to see how the film shakes out!

The positives and negatives for Netflix’s Lift

As stated in the opener, Lift had all the makings for an exciting action-comedy film, with powerhouses on and off the screen. However, for me, Lift fell flat for most of the film but was able to catch itself a bit in the end. The film, even though it is labeled as a comedy, attempts to take itself rather seriously, along the lines of a Mission Impossible or James Bond film. However, when you cast someone such as Kevin Hart, who also serves as producer, I’m expecting the comedy to be front and center.

Not that actors can’t branch out from their typical roles, but some of Jim Carrey’s best work is his serious roles such as The Number 23 and The Truman Show. However, something gets lost in translation for Hart as Cyrus. He wants to come off as suave and cool but misses that mark as he still holds a silly air to him. I wanted to buy into him being this lady’s man mastermind, but I kept waiting for The Rock to come out and announce that he was the actual leader of the group. 

The story itself was basic, although I have come to not expect much from a lot of action films. We’re not here for the plot but for the cool stunts and crazy effects. That being said, I have seen some heist movies that challenge the brain a bit or have an engaging enough story that elevates the film into something more than mediocre. Think along the lines of Army of Thieves, which is one of my favorite heist movies to date. However, the story of Lift did little to elevate the film, unless you consider the actual elevation due to being on a plane as such.

Lift Cast
Lift. Image courtesy of Netflix.

The story starts slow, almost too slow, with action and exposition that happens at a crawl. 30 minutes into the film and we almost switched it off. It felt like nothing was happening and I began to question what the point of Lift was. It was at that point that this film found a narrative and stuck to it. However, even then Lift struggles to find itself, as the story and tone struggle scene after scene.

It isn’t until the third act that Lift truly finds itself. Once the aircraft takes off, the action truly begins and the excitement builds. The stunts on the planes are incredible, with a few causing audible gasps or joyful sounds. As well, the conclusion of the story is rather rewarding, even if the journey getting there was tedious at best.

Of the expansive cast, there are a few actors that do well with what they were given. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is fun as the straight-laced Abby, who wants to do the best in a world of crooks and thieves. Seeing her attempting to corral Cyrus and his people is hilarious, which is where the comedic tone mostly comes from. Abby is in the middle of the chaos and drowning, except that the longer she’s in it, the more she seems to enjoy it.

Vincent D’Onofrio is also one of the best parts of the film, with Denton being some polar opposite to his other recent role of Kingpin. D’Onofrio is another character placed for comedic effect, with one-liners that the actor delivers perfectly. If you love D’Onofrio, then his role as Denton is not one to miss. I only wish that there was more of him in the film, as Denton is relegated to a side character when he should be one of the front runners of the group.

The final shining star among the cast is Billy Magnussen as Magnus. I’m not sure what it is about Magnussen, but nearly every role he’s in has a magnetism to it. Whether he’s in a comedy or drama, he tends to be one of my favorite characters in the project. His role in Lift is no exception. Magnus is a wise-cracking piece of work but also has a loveable energy that you can’t help but soak up.

Final Thoughts on Lift

Overall, Lift wasn’t worth the time I invested in watching it. Some action sequences were fun and a few strong performances, but the pacing issues and lack of a cohesive plot outweighed the good. For fans of action films, Lift is an alright movie that will wet your whistle before the next big blockbuster comes out. However, if you’re just passively looking for something to watch, Netflix has other selections to choose from that would be a better use of your time.

Lift is now streaming on Netflix.

Lift is now on Netflix. Have you watched the film yet? What did you think? Let us know on social media your thoughts on this film by leaving a comment below or messaging us on X @MoviesWeTexted.

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