On January 12th, the latest Friday release on Netflix was the film “Lift,” directed by F. Gary Gray. The film, originally scheduled for release in August of the previous year, had to be postponed due to Hollywood strikes. In this review, we’ll explain why you might feel like you’ve seen this film before, even if you haven’t watched it yet, and why that doesn’t stop it from providing a necessary dose of guilty pleasure.
- Title: “Lift”
- Genre: Heist film
- Director: F. Gary Gray
- Starring: Kevin Hart, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ursula Cobrero, Billy Magnussen, Burn Gorman, Jacob Batalon, Sam Worthington, Jean Reno
- Premiere: Netflix
- Release Year: 2024
- IMDb: 5.4
Cyrus Whitaker is a professional thief who leads a diverse team of experts specializing in stealing genuine works of art. His ex-girlfriend Abby, an Interpol agent, tries to put the rogue behind bars but receives an unexpected order from a stern chief. He compels her to recruit Cyrus and his friends to steal $500 million in gold belonging to billionaire Lars Jorgenson. The latter plans to pay this sum to hackers to enrich himself, but his villainous plan involves the death of many innocent people.
In exchange for the thieves’ services, Abby offers immunity for their past exploits. However, their mission is complicated by the fact that the gold bars will be transported on a passenger plane. Therefore, the already challenging heist will take place at an altitude of 12,000 meters, somewhere amid carefree European clouds between London and Zurich.
After familiarizing yourself with the synopsis, at least two predictable questions may arise. Is it really as nonsensical as it sounds on paper? And does the plot remind you of the local setup of other films, especially a very famous franchise? Hint – it involves many well-built guys (at least four), improbable action scenes, and speeches about family. Yes, those were rhetorical questions.
“Lift” offers another story about an exceptional group of thieves in the spirit of Steven Soderbergh’s famous trilogy. However, instead of Soderbergh’s sophistication, the audience is treated to the antics of a late-Fast and Furious crew, both in terms of the absurdity on the screen and the unrealistic portrayal.
Surprisingly, even these factors don’t prevent one from getting their share of “guilty pleasure” from this, let’s be honest, undemanding spectacle.
Director Felix Gary Gray once worked on the eighth “Fast and Furious,” which grossed over a billion dollars worldwide, and the adrenaline style of the latter is clearly traced here. However, it’s more in line with the adventures of the fifth and sixth installments rather than the eighth. The fifth, if you remember, also revolved around a supposedly clever heist (there’s even an identical twist here), and the motivation in the sixth was also based on amnesty for the afflicted. There’s no need to dwell on the whimsical somersaults of planes once again, but the main thing is that it still looks quite captivating.
But “Fast and Furious” is not the director’s only rich creative legacy. More importantly, 20-something years ago, he worked on the excellent “The Italian Job,” which, alongside “Ocean’s Eleven,” became a successful remake of a somewhat forgotten 60s film. Obviously, that experience helped F. Gary Gray, even with such weak material as “Lift,” whose plot echoes “The Italian Job” and starts in Venice, yet manages to look charming.
Achieving a somewhat acceptable result is possible thanks to decent dynamics, as there is no time to be bored during the viewing.
The pleasant cast also enhances the impression, as they play their roles well, and it’s even better here because there’s no need to be distracted by any pseudo-dramatic conflicts. Jean Reno seems to have dropped by the set to have coffee. Vincent D’Onofrio is already on his second project of the week. Kevin Hart, accustomed to playing fools, behaves unusually restrained this time, without his usual antics.
Another factor influencing the perception of the film is that Netflix’s previous, more ambitious projects had a consistently serious and stern expression. For example, Zack Snyder dared to challenge the venerable “Star Wars” and received criticism from both critics and audiences. Another blockbuster, “Mission Stone,” positioned itself as something like “Mission: Impossible” but was shamefully destroyed by the public (including us). Therefore, such comparisons sound amusing now.
The light-hearted “Lift” by no means claims to be the “new Danny Ocean,” so it doesn’t fall victim to inflated expectations. Before watching, the audience can roughly understand the type of movie they are in for. And it turns out to be somewhat clichéd, with all these overly familiar lines like “I’m in, I’m too,” or “Mi-San, your exit,” yet entertaining and funny enough not to regret the time spent.
“Lift” is a hundred percent fast food from the cinema, and the paradox is that even from such a product, there is an undeniable benefit.