‘Lift’ movie review: Kevin Hart’s heist outing is grounded on the runway

The sparkling cast and audacious pace notwithstanding, this multi-starrer has no humour and zero zing

January 13, 2024 02:03 pm | Updated 02:03 pm IST

A still from ‘Lift’

A still from ‘Lift’

There is nothing to salvage this film that must have sounded brilliant at the script stage and then came apart in the execution. Heist films, when done right, are incredible fun; unfortunately Lift is not that movie.

Director: F. Gary Gray
Cast: Kevin Hart, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Vincent D’Onofrio, Úrsula Corberó, Billy Magnussen, Jacob Batalon, Jean Reno, Sam Worthington
Story line: A master thief and his brilliantly eccentric crew have to pull off one last job before riding into the sunset and freedom
Run time: 104 minutes

With all the heists happening on streaming, it has practically become a sub-genre. There is the planning, the getting together of a team of disparate individuals with their idiosyncrasies and motivations, the ticking-clock nature of the job (which naturally is under impossible conditions), the getaway, the dogged pursuit by the law, and the unravelling.

The first act establishes the key players. Robin Hood-esque art thief Cyrus (Kevin Hart) and his crew are at a posh auction in Venice doing their job — stealing — while an Interpol agent, Abby (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), is watching with eagle eyes for a chance to put Cyrus behind bars.

Cyrus is naturally able to put one over the agent’s beady eyes, and the gang and artist are all happily partying on a yacht, when the next crisis comes up. Abby’s mean boss, Huxley (Sam Worthington) talks of an evil mastermind, Jorgenson (Jean Reno), who is going to hold the world ransom by hacking into civic amenities; aren’t you glad not everything is automated in India?

Jorgenson is your standard-issue psychopath feeding those who have crossed him to his dogs, including the unfortunate Arthur Tigue (Jess Liaudin), the informant who tells Huxley of Jorgenson’s cunning plan. Though the dog wags its tail in anticipation of a jolly meal, the fact that Tigue washes up in six bags indicates Jorgenson starves his dogs as well — there are no depths he will not plumb, obviously.   

Huxley wants Abby to convince Cyrus and gang to steal half a billion worth of gold bullion that Jorgensen is moving on a passenger plane from London to Zurich to pay the hackers. They do so after much hi-jinks involving two planes, a silly tech billionaire and his flashy private jet, a nasty ATC person in Brussels and invisible sparks between Cyrus and Abby. All the action happens in first class — it would have been impossible to steal a plane from coach.

Of Cyrus’s crew — getaway driver, Camila (Úrsula Corberó), safe cracker, Magnus (Billy Magnussen), electronics expert, Mi-Sun (Kim Yoon-ji) and engineer Luke (Viveik Kalra), only Vincent D’Onofrio has fun as the master of disguise Denton.

Even at a short 104 minute runtime, Lift has no humour and zero zing. Everyone is very well dressed and perfectly made up, and Venice looks exquisite, but all that gold and beauty cannot lift this movie from the abysmal hole it digs itself into.  

Lift is currently streaming on Netflix

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