In the world of cinema, captivating heist films have become a beloved genre, often blending action, suspense, and clever plot twists. Lift, directed by F. Gary Gray, attempts to join these ranks with its star-studded cast led by Kevin Hart. However, despite the potential of the concept and the talent involved, the movie fails to soar.
A Ludicrous Concept
Lift revolves around the idea of a non-fungible token (NFT) increasing in value, serving as the driving force behind the caper. While this premise might have seemed plausible a couple of years ago, the timing of the movie's release unfortunately coincides with the decline in interest and value of NFTs. This mismatch between the film's plot and the current reality of NFTs undermines its credibility from the outset.
Lack of Star Power
Kevin Hart, known for his comedic prowess, is woefully miscast in the role of Cyrus Whitaker, the leader of a team of jet-setting thieves. Hart lacks the acting chops and gravitas needed to carry the weight of a heist film, especially one that aspires to be more than a broad comedy. His attempts to portray Cyrus as a thief with a heart of gold and win over his co-star, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who plays Interpol agent Abby Gladwell, fall flat. The lack of chemistry between Hart and Mbatha-Raw hampers the emotional depth and believability of their relationship on-screen.
Thinly Written Characters
Beyond the central duo, the supporting cast of Lift includes Vincent D'Onofrio as Denton, the master of disguise, Úrsula Corberó as Camila, the skilled pilot, and Billy Magnussen as Magnus, the safecracker. While these actors bring enthusiasm to their roles, the characters themselves are thinly written and fail to leave a lasting impression. Each member of the team fulfills a familiar archetype, but their potential remains untapped due to the lack of depth in the screenplay.
A Missed Opportunity for Parody
At times, Lift veers into the territory of parody, reminiscent of films like Spy. Embracing the inherent silliness of the plot and the characters' situations could have elevated the movie's entertainment value. Kevin Hart delivering lines with comedic timing while donning a black turtleneck could have been a humorous nod to the genre. Unfortunately, Lift takes itself too seriously, even in moments where it attempts to elicit laughs. This failure to fully embrace the potential for satire leaves the audience longing for a more self-aware and lighthearted approach.
Direction and Action Sequences
Director F. Gary Gray, known for his work on films like Friday, Straight Outta Compton, and The Fate of the Furious, demonstrates his skill in executing action sequences. However, the issues with Lift lie more in the screenplay than in Gray's direction. Despite his efforts, the clichéd nature of practically every scene and the lackluster dialogue prevent the movie from reaching its full potential. The action sequences, while well-executed, cannot compensate for the shortcomings of the script.
Streaming vs. Theater Experience
While popcorn movies often find their place in theaters, low-effort projects like Lift may struggle to captivate audiences in a home viewing setting. The lack of originality and depth becomes more apparent when watched outside the immersive environment of a theater. Perhaps watching Lift on a plane, where distractions abound, might be the most forgiving way to experience the film.
A Forgettable January Film
As January tends to be a month known for lackluster multiplex releases, streaming platforms have emerged as an alternative for quality entertainment. However, Lift fails to break this trend, offering a forgettable experience even within the streaming landscape. The potential of NFTs as a passing fad, mentioned by Kevin Hart's character in a climactic scene, serves as an unfortunate metaphor for the film itself. Lift aspires to be art, but it ultimately depends on how it is executed, and in this case, the execution falls short.
Despite its promising concept and star-studded cast, Lift fails to rise above its clichés and lackluster execution. Kevin Hart's miscasting, the lack of chemistry between the leads, and the thinly written supporting characters all contribute to the film's shortcomings. The potential for parody is left untapped, and even well-executed action sequences cannot compensate for the clichéd nature of the screenplay. While January often yields forgettable films, Lift unfortunately fails to break this pattern. As streaming platforms continue to provide alternatives for viewers, it is crucial for movies to stand out with originality and depth, qualities that Lift ultimately lacks.