'Lift': Mediocre Kevin Hart nearly ruins gold heist


Poster of the Netflix movie ‘Lift’ which features US comedian Kevin Hart. PHOTO | COURTESY

Just how good is Kevin Hart as an actor? Consider this: when you watch an actor, for instance in this case, someone like Denzel Washington, he completely transforms into a character in whatever role he plays, even in roles that, on paper, look alike.

Think of Frank Lucas in American Gangster and Alonzo Harris in Training Day, both played by the Denzel, but they look, sound and totally feel diferent.

Yes, these are characters from two different stories, from two different production teams and two different timelines, but they are played by the same person, and at no point watching these movies do you see Denzel Washington - from the character's personality to the costume designs. That, I think, is the true sign of a great actor.

Kevin Hart, a stand-up comedian turned actor, just released a new project Lift, and after the 104-minute runtime of the movie, I am starting to question his on-screen acting skills.


Lift is an action/comedy film on Netflix that comes from Kevin Hart’s production company, Hartbeat, along with other production companies.

The director of the movie, F. Gary Gray, has a reputation for making big blockbuster movies like, Law Abidding Citizen, The Italian Job, and Fate of the Furious. However, that is not to say that this movie is a low budget project; it had a budget of $100 million. It’s just that most of his previous work was released in theaters, while this one went directly on streaming.

The movie features some well-known actors like Kevin Hart (of course), Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sam Worthington, Jean Reno, Vincent D’Onofrio, and a really interesting cameo if you are a fan of the recent spiderman movies.


The story follows a master thief and his Interpol agent ex-girlfriend who team up to steal $500 million in gold bullion being transported on an A380 passenger flight.


This movie has a great look; the cinematography of Bernhard Jasper and the direction of F. Gary Gray show all the locations that the team visits. The wide and establishing shots, especially for a city like Venice, are stunning, and they help you get immersed in the scenes.

The colour grading and lighting are vibrant and match the mood of the movie; a lot of scenes are bright and colourful.

The performances were decent, nothing remarkable, except for Vincent D’Onofrio, who had an intriguing but yet limited role.

Each character, as in most heist movie, has a distinct personality and a specific skill set. The ones that impressed me were Kim Yoon-ji, the hacker, and Billy Magnussen as Magnus. Kevin Hart was fine, but we will talk about that later.

The story also kind of works; it was not original, a common plot for a heist movie, but what made it different was the villain’s scheme. The bad guy, played by Jean Reno, had a clever and well-planned strategy, and the events that happen for most of the third act are the most fun part of the movie. They were not a surpise, but there was an attempt to do something different.

This movie is on streaming, and it follows a familiar three-act structure, which makes it accesible, but the third act is unpredictable enough to make the movie enjoyable and entertaining.

The movie is 1 hour 44 minutes long in an era where most movies are 2 hours or more, and this is thanks to solid direction, good editing, and pacing. Scenes do not drag on, nor do they rush by.

The action, while not being amazing, is enjoyable, and I felt that most of the action scenes in the third act were utilised in advancing and pacing the story.

Kevin Hart

Now, Lift, fell short in two areas. The first was Kevin Hart. He has a lot of fans and a good sense of humor, thanks to his stand-up comedy career and his relationships with many Hollywood stars (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Chris Rock, Shaquille O’Neal, Dave Chappelle), as well as his strong social media presence. He is a dependable and bankable actor, but his performance in this movie was far from impressive; I would even say it was bland.

I tried but could not buy that Cyrus (Kevin Hart) was a sophisticated art thief, the leader of the team nor the genius behind such a complicated heist. He lacked the charisma, charm, and look that suited that character and role. I think this was partly because of poor costume decisions and a weak screenplay that did not give him much to work with.

Kevin Hart in this movie was just a muted version of himself, not Cyrus.

Yes, Kevin had to be the lead, since he founded Hartbeat, the company behind the film, and his influence would have a significant impact on the film’s streaming performance. But every time I saw Cyrus, I thought that Sterling K. Brown would have been the better actor for that role based on his performance in movies like Honk for Jesus. save your soul.

The movie had some amazing shots, but the visual effects in some scenes, especially one on the Swiss Alps, were poorly done. It was obvious that some of the scenes were shot on a green screen.

Finally, and this is just me being picky, this movie did not do anything original, despite trying to be different, especially with that twist at the end. I kept thinking of Oceans 11 throughout the movie.

All in all

Skillfully directed and very entertaining, Lift is a typical heist movie on paper, and it does not do anything new. But it tries to make a fun and engaging film. The good thing is that the movie is on streaming, where it belongs. Kevin Hart’s ambitious, but mediocre performance and bad visual effects do not ruin the entertainment value of this movie. In the end, I would say that this is the kind of movie that would be perfect for a relaxing Sunday afternoon.

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