Netflix’s new movie, “Lift,” finds itself in a dubious position, entwining its plot with the dated concept of NFTs and even going so far as to have a character explain what an NFT is. The film stars Kevin Hart and a cast recognizable as ‘that guy from that thing,’ presenting a blend of a late-period Fast & Furious film and a mid-2000s European heist movie.
Directed by F Gary Gray, known for both the enjoyable romp “The Italian Job” and the overblown mess “The Fate of the Furious,” “Lift” seems to lean towards the latter. Gray’s recent film, “Men in Black: International,” faced challenges, making the filmmaking process reportedly traumatic for him. Whether “Lift” provided a better experience for Gray remains uncertain, as audiences are unlikely to have a positive reception.
In “Lift,” Kevin Hart portrays Cyrus Whitaker, a suave thief coerced into a high-stakes mid-air heist by Interpol. The film attempts to convey Cyrus’s character as a soft-hearted thief, balancing CGI-heavy action set-pieces, many of which appear against a green screen backdrop. Despite the film’s reliance on CGI, Gray handles hand-to-hand combat dynamically, but occasional distractions include fully computer-generated shots of aerial acrobatics.
Jean Reno plays the villain, an arms dealer-type character with unclear motivations. The movie addresses these concerns by intermittently having characters shout about saving the world or stopping terrorists. Hart, usually cast as a wildcard and a talented comedian, takes on a straight-man role, deviating from his typical comedic characters. As a producer on the film, this choice might explain his lead role, which feels mismatched.
Sam Worthington makes a brief appearance as a conniving Interpol agent, adding to the star-studded but somewhat misfit cast. “Lift” aligns aesthetically and tonally with earlier Netflix tent-poles, avoiding real conversations and locations in favor of a polished, studio-dominated atmosphere.
The romantic subplot in “Lift” falls flat, mirroring the film’s climactic showdown with uninspiring chroma work. While the central cast, especially Vincent D’Onofrio and Billy Magnussen, embraces the absurdity, the film’s underlying premise raises questions about its purpose, being a movie about greed likely driven by it. The effort imbalance is evident, with the central cast embracing the absurdity while the movie itself raises doubts about its motivation and purpose.