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Kevin Hart toplines the breezy heist flick Lift from director F. Gary Gray



For his first project of 2024 and his latest Netflix project, comedic superstar Kevin Hart teams up with director F. Gary Gray for the heist film Lift. Daniel Kunka pens the film's script, which focuses on an international heist crew led by Cyrus Whitaker (Hart). 


Lift begins with an introduction to Cyrus and his team as they prepare for their next heist. Cyrus's team includes Camilla (Úrsula Corberó) as the wheelwoman, Magnus (Billy Magnussen) as the safecracker, Mi-Sun (Yun Jee Kim) as the electronics expert, Luc (Viveik Kalra) as the engineer, and Denton (Vincent D'Onofrio) as the master of disguise. Although the team members are thieves, they have a code that they follow - they only steal art from people who do not deserve to own it.


Unfortunately, due to a simple mistake, Cyrus and his team have caught the attention of Abby Gladwell (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a former fling of his who now works as an Interpol agent. To bring down the criminal mastermind Lars Jorgensen (played by Jean Reno), Abby's boss Dennis Huxley (played by Sam Worthington) strikes a deal with Cyrus and his team to intercept ten tons of gold that Jorgensen intends to use as a terrorist payment. In exchange for their help, Huxley offers complete immunity to Cyrus and his team. The only problem is that the gold is on a plane flying 40,000 feet.


It's sometimes hard to believe that I've been rocking with Kevin Hart for twenty-six years. Watching this brother go from Lil Kev, the Bastard, to a full-fledged mogul is inspiring. As comedians often do, Hart's material has changed as his star rose. In the past, we've seen him take on dramatic roles in The Upside, Fatherhood, and, most recently, True Story. Naturally, it makes sense that Hart transitions to the action genre for his next flick.

 

Throughout most of the film, Kevin Hart delivers a serious and focused performance. His character, Cyrus, is not portrayed as hyperactive, nor are there cheap one-liners or jokes about Hart's height. The director, Steve Gray, does an excellent job of bringing out Cyrus's leadership qualities and getting the best performance from Hart. Credit should also be given to the scriptwriters for not relying on plot armor to make Cyrus look good. Although Cyrus does get involved in some fight scenes and stunts, they are not too far-fetched or unrealistic.

 

It was also significant to Gug Mbatha-Raw in another action role. I've been a fan since her work in the underappreciated series Undercover. Raw has great organic chemistry with Hart as the two play well off each other, but the script downplays any sexual tension that films sometimes fall victim to. The rest of the supporting cast who make up Cyrus's crew fall into the typical character templates you would expect from a heist film, but it's clear that everyone is having a blast using their skills set in the movie.


As for the direction, F. Gary Gray keeps the plot moving along and still has a beautiful eye for an action sequence. Whether it's a boat chase in the film's opening through the canals of Venice or the film's climatic plane fight, Gray doesn't miss a beat. The one gripe I had with Lift was the underwhelming presence of Jean Reno and Sam Worthington, who elude performances with a "I'm only here for a check" vibe.


Featuring all of the elements of an escapist heist film, Lift is worth the stream.


Final Grade: B+


Lift premieres tomorrow on Netflix at  www.netflix.com/LIFT 



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