‘Lift’ Review: Kevin Hart Is a Hero in This Flimsy Action Film

‘Lift’ Review: Kevin Hart Is a Hero in This Flimsy Action Film

Kevin Hart plays Cyrus, a master thief, in the undercooked heist flick, “Lift,” directed by F. Gary Gray. Written by Daniel Kunka, the film consists of luxurious locations like Tuscany and Venice and elaborate set pieces including a speedboat chase in the opening scene, but they are not infused with any sense of suspense or danger.

The film relies on a cartoonish villain, the eco-terrorist Lars Jorgensen (Jean Reno), who wants to game the stock market by paying some shadowy hackers half a billion dollars in gold bars to disrupt the world’s water supply. Beyond the windfall Jorgensen will get from shorting water utility stocks, it’s unclear what he gains from this elaborate ruse.

An Interpol agent, Abby (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), enlists Cyrus to steal the passenger plane carrying the gold bars before any damage can be done. Although Abby and Cyrus are old flames, the film doesn’t pick up any romantic steam, either, thanks to what passes for banter. “I was looking at the questions that weren’t being asked,” Cyrus tells Abby. “Too cool for school, huh?” she says.

Though he tries to play Cyrus in the mold of Tom Cruise in “Mission: Impossible” or Robert Redford in “Sneakers” (two similarly framed heist films), as a leading man, Hart is stuck in neutral. You never understand why Abby would fall for him or why his team, composed of broad characters who seem to function solely as the source of creaky quips, are so steadfast. Hart possesses neither the charisma of Cruise nor the charm of Redford necessary to shoulder these action movie mechanics, a failure that demonstrates what happens when character actors are told they’re movie stars.

Rated PG-13 for cheap violence and sexless romance. Running time: 1 hour 44 minutes. Watch on Netflix.

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