Lift Review: A Heist Comedy That Fails to Soar

Lift (2024).

Directed by F. Gary Gray and written by Daniel Kunka, Lift is a heist comedy that aspires to join the ranks of classics in the genre but falls flat in execution. Starring Kevin Hart, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Vincent D’Onofrio, Úrsula Corberó, and an ensemble cast, the film attempts to blend humor, action, and intrigue, but the end result is a disjointed mess that struggles to find its footing.

The plot revolves around Cyrus (Kevin Hart), a renowned international thief, leading a crew of eclectic specialists in a heist involving the theft of a Van Gogh painting and a staged kidnapping of an NFT artist. The crew is blackmailed by Interpol agent Abby Gladwell (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), Cyrus’s former fling, to help capture a banker and terrorist mastermind. The mission involves stealing gold from a commercial airliner mid-air, a premise that promises excitement but ultimately fails to deliver.

The Bad:

One of the film’s major flaws lies in its pacing and structure. The narrative jumps between the heist planning, character backstories, and the actual execution of the mission, resulting in a convoluted and confusing storyline. The filmmakers seem to have thrown in every conceivable element of a heist movie without considering how they fit together, creating a haphazard and unsatisfying viewing experience.

The characters, despite being portrayed by a talented cast, lack depth and development. Kevin Hart’s Cyrus comes off as a one-dimensional wisecracker, relying on his comedic persona without bringing anything new to the table. Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s Abby is reduced to a generic love interest and lacks agency, ultimately joining Cyrus’s crew without much justification. The supporting characters, including Vincent D’Onofrio’s Denton and Úrsula Corberó’s Camila, are forgettable and fail to leave a lasting impression.

The film’s attempts at humor often fall flat, relying heavily on Kevin Hart’s signature style of comedy, which may not appeal to everyone. The dialogue feels forced and lacks the clever wit that is crucial for a successful heist comedy. The comedic elements often overshadow the potential for tension and suspense, diluting the impact of crucial moments in the plot.

The heist itself, which should be the centerpiece of the film, is disappointingly underwhelming. The intricacies of the plan are overshadowed by improbable scenarios and convenient plot devices. The mid-air gold heist, while an ambitious concept, lacks the necessary tension and realism to make it a memorable set-piece. The action sequences are choreographed in a way that undermines the stakes, leaving the audience detached from the characters’ struggles.

The film also suffers from a lack of originality in its themes and plot twists. The predictability of the plot robs the film of the suspense and excitement that are essential for a successful entry in the genre.

The Good:

While the cinematography and production design are competent, they cannot salvage the film from its fundamental flaws. The visuals are slick, but they lack a distinct style or flair. It could have elevated the movie beyond its mediocre script. The use of NFT technology and the art world as plot devices feels gimmicky, too.

Overall:

Lift is a heist comedy that fails to live up to its potential. Despite a good cast and an ambitious premise, the film has a convoluted plot. It also boasts underdeveloped characters, and lackluster humor. F. Gary Gray’s direction and Daniel Kunka’s writing lack the finesse of a successful heist movie. Lift is a bland film that struggles to distinguish itself in a crowded field of superior films.

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Lift Review: A Heist Comedy That Fails to Soar
  • Acting - 5.5/10
    5.5/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 6/10
    6/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 5/10
    5/10
  • Setting/Theme - 4/10
    4/10
  • Watchability - 3/10
    3/10
  • Rewatchability - 2/10
    2/10
Overall
4.3/10
4.3/10
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About Caillou Pettis

Caillou Pettis is a professional film critic and journalist as well as the author of While You Sleep, The Inspiring World of Horror: The Movies That Influenced Generations, and co-author of Out of Time: True Paranormal Encounters. He has been writing in the entertainment industry for over seven and a half years professionally. Throughout the years, he has written articles for publications including Gold Derby, Exclaim!, CBR, Awards Radar, Awards Watch, Flickering Myth, BRWC, Starburst Magazine, Punch Drunk Critics, Mediaversity Reviews, Vinyl Chapters, Northern Transmissions, and Beats Per Minute.