It’s difficult to differentiate F. Gary Gray’s Lift with his work in films like his contribution in the Fast and Furious franchise. But let’s be fair to him and his fellow crew and cast. This new Netflix film does have things that sets itself apart, arguably. It begins with Cyrus (Kevin Hart, problematic fave) and his band of art world Robin Hoods (including Billy Magnussen, Úrsula Corberó, and Vincent D’Onofrio). They legitimately buy an NFT from an artist, N8 (Jacob Batalon). That’s Cyrus and gang’s version of events, which is not the perspective of Interpol and one of its agents, Abby Gladwell (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). In Abby’s eyes, they’re straight up thieves with that NFT plot that she fails to foil.
Pouring salt on Abby’s wounds is her boss, Dennis Huxley (Sam Worthington). He tells her that she has to recruit Cyrus etc. for one job for the agency. According to Dennis, Cyrus’ gang is the only group who can steal gold from a Nordic terrorist (Jean Reno). Complicating things is Abby and Cyrus’ romantic backstory. What ensues, then, are interesting choices like making characters seem more human. There’s also noticeable spotlights on the supporting actors here, making this F. Gary Gray’s most British film so far. And of course, the viewers watching Lift knows that it exists to reinforce the idea that Kevin Hart is a star capable of carrying action films.
Ok fine, I’ll do a quick explanation on some of the points I say about Lift in the previous paragraph. First, the human part. There’s less make-up on some of the actors here, especially Mbatha-Raw and Worthington. This choice gives both characters an edge, and it goes without saying that even with less make-up, both are more beautiful than my mortal face will ever be. Second, the British. Some of us will recognize some of the actors. But surprisingly, a standout here is David Proud as Abby’s contact Harry, who uses his different ability to help the heist going. He almost makes me wish I watched my share of British soaps like Eastenders.
Part of me is looking for Lift‘s weak link for the occasional yet noticeable slip ups, and maybe that person is F. Gary Gray. First, the film will have its moments that feel too glossy but again, he is working under a specific genre and streamer so he has to play by some rules. Second, because of Daniel Kunka’s writing, the film takes three times to explain how the heist will work. Third, Jean Reno’s character feels toothless. But actors always save whatever film they’re on, especially the supporting cast. I almost forgot to give credit to Magnussen for playing the gang’s himbo, and of course, there’s Hart, who can pull off the levels of playing someone in charge.
Watch Lift on Netflix.
- Rated: PG-13
- Genre: Action, Comedy, crime, Romance
- Release Date: 1/12/2023
- Directed by: F. Gary Gray
- Starring: Billy Magnussen, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jacob Batalon, Kevin Hart, Úrsula Corberó, Vincent D'Onofrio
- Produced by: Bryan Smiley, Kevin Hart, Simon Kinberg
- Written by: Daniel Kunka
- Studio: Genre Films, HartBeat Productions