Lift Film Review
Lift (2024) Film Review, a movie directed by F. Gary Gray, written by Daniel Kunka, and starring Kevin Hart, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sam Worthington, Vincent D’Onofrio, Úrsula Corberó, Billy Magnussen, Yun Jee Kim, Viveik Kalra, and Jean Reno.
Lift (2024) is categorized as an action/comedy film which has Kevin Hart, the male lead, depart from his usual comedic supporting roles into what was intended to be a serious character. I say “categorized as” rather than simply “is” because the product fails to have an identity. While genre-defiance and experimentation are laudable, the film fails to achieve any unique characteristics since it depends on blandly imitating other action movies (such as Ocean’s 11) and speaking a poorly written script with hardly any quality humor. In attempting to vindicate the artistic worth of lighthearted material, the lack of believable storytelling—further aggravated by poor acting—causes the film to instead deliver a shallow and careless attempt to contribute to the action/comedy hybrid genre.
The action sequences are one of the few pluses the film has to offer. Whatsoever the choreographed moves accomplish, however, crumbles apart when the clean cut, sharp male lead does not exist. Yes, the movie provides earnest visual effects, obligatory bleeps and bloops, and quirky side characters, each with their typical special abilities. All of these factors do as much as they can to provide an environment for a heist movie, but the efforts are in vain when the story is milquetoast and Hart is obscured by his supporting cast.
One would have readily assumed that with Kevin Hart as the lead man, his natural humor would have had a constant presence throughout the movie. Instead, he visibly suppresses his comedic elements in his unconvincing attempt at portraying a professional thief supervising a team of experts. Unfortunately, his contrived seriousness comes across as a mutated, one-degree-of-separation delivery of parody. His character, Cyrus, also experiences very little growth or development. While Hart does interestingly portray Cyrus’s comparative smallness in the face of the intimidating Huxley (Sam Worthington), this is an isolated moment which does not find echo in other instances of vulnerability or insecurity. As a result, the audience cannot become invested or curious; at best, one bears witness to Cyrus’s story out of idle fascination that an entire movie has the intrepidness to exist without substantial protagonism. Again, if the director had been planning to experiment on form and create an action movie without central perspective, then a respectable movie would have provided something to fill that void. Emptily, what we get is a film which relies on the over-hued traits of Cyrus’s peripheral team and Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s laborious acting to communicate a hand-wringing narrative that winces at its own absurdity, co-crash-landing a plane at a château, and all.
I could go on and on criticizing the film’s facile writing, lack of chemistry, and pervasive reliance on unbelievability to move along the plot. Despite my urge to elaborate on these and other shortcomings of the film’s artistic direction and production, such as the haphazard, dizzying use of gadgets and gizmos, I will instead end with a commentary on what I find most troubling about the intentionality of the film.
It was entirely okay for Kevin Hart to want to break away from his go-to comedic roles. However, nothing was in place in order for this transition to be a success. Bafflingly, his acting was so constricted, and his lines were so forgettable, as if to imply that the filmmakers were trying to hide their mistake. Rather than work with Hart’s comedic tendencies with a funny script or storyline, the film compresses his persona in the creation of an unconvincing leader of misfit criminals. This laziness sends the message that trying to break free from typecasting will result in failure.
It is possible to create a lighthearted action/comedy movie with convincing characters and a rich story. It is possible to cast an unexpected actor as the male lead, provided he draws from his strengths. It is possible to innovate, avoid classification, and even have guilty pleasures, such as the quirky sidekicks. All this is possible, and more, provided the film avoids imitation and tall tale techniques. Alas, Lift’s cast did not bring a witty script to life. Neither was there tasteful production to complement, not compensate for, the adventure and suspense which was the duty of the aforementioned. Boat chases, plane spins, and whirring contraptions are all there to distract you from the nothingness that is the only authentic companion to the audience in this movie.
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