/ 28 January 2024

Getting to the Hart of the action

More action than comedy, Lift makes the actor’s dream come true while exploring issues around money and who exactly the bad guys are. (Netflix)

We all know the story of Robin Hood, the folklore outlaw who stole from the rich to give to the poor. 

In and of itself, it was, and still is, a commentary on the issue of unequal wealth distribution, an issue that humans have faced ever since class systems were introduced to our societies and cultures. 

As time has gone on, this issue has only got worse, evidenced by the simple fact that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer everywhere you look. 

Netflix’s new Kevin Hart movie Lift is a Robin Hood story of sorts.

Cyrus, played by Hart, and his team of thieves steal expensive artworks and other valuables to make the value of the work go up for the artist and to get a cut of the money. 

They are approached by the FBI to do the unthinkable — to steal gold off a plane while it is in flight. They succeed, gain a new teammate, and outsmart a fraudulent agent. 

The film also explores the idea of who are the “bad guys”. Though many would think that it’s the thieves, I believe it depends on the angle you watch the film from. 

We would assume that the fraudulent FBI agent made an oath at the beginning of his career to protect and serve his country. 

However, as we watch the film, we see he has no interest in protecting and serving and is more concerned about his selfish wants, which could make him the ultimate bad guy. 

The thieves took no such oath, so their loyalties lie with no one. Furthermore, as mentioned, they stole to benefit others, which could be recognised as a good deed. 

So, who is the real villain?

Moral questions aside, this project is a big one for Hart himself. 

In numerous interviews, he has mentioned that he has wanted to be an action star or, as we say in South Africa, a “stering” — a lead character in an action movie who is never killed off. 

This movie is that wish come true. Originally a stand-up comedian, Hart usually plays characters who serve as comic relief. 

In Central Intelligence, he plays an accountant who unintentionally becomes involved in a former classmate’s CIA mission. In Ride Along 1 and 2, he plays the less experienced cop who is trying to impress his detective brother-in-law and wife. In Lift, Hart plays the main character and brains in the team of thieves and showcases his ability to lead in an action movie. 

Cyrus’s team consists of your typical action movie archetypes. There’s Cyrus, the brains of the group. He is often the one who oversees everything and ensures that the mission goes to plan. 

Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays Abby, an FBI agent who had a short fling with Cyrus years prior to the gold heist. While working with Cyrus and his team, she finds herself enjoying the thrill of the mission and discovers how deep her feelings for him run. 

Ursula Corbero plays Camila, the skilled pilot. She’s the one who makes the exit plans and plays an integral role in the gold heist. 

Vincent D’Onofrio plays Denton, the master of disguise — he does the groundwork. By being able to disguise himself, he’s able to get up close to the artworks and the people who protect them. 

Finally, Kim Yoon-Ji plays Mi Sun, the tech genius in the crew. All the high-tech gadgets they use to break into systems and for surveillance are designed and made by her. 

The cast members all fall into their roles effortlessly and create — as far as movies go — a believable world that draws you in from the start.

The film is marketed as an action-comedy, something I’m not sure I quite agree with. The action is accurate and, I would say, it’s even your typical action movie. Many epic plot twists, an enticing mission that seems impossible to complete, shootouts and fights that leave audiences filled with adrenaline and excited for the next scene. 

Regarding the comedy aspect, I wouldn’t say there are many rolling-on-the-floor laughing moments. There are tiny chuckle moments but that doesn’t make it a comedy. 

In my opinion, this is an action movie through and through.

For action fans, I think this is a very enjoyable movie, however, for comedy fans, it is lacklustre. It is no surprise it scores a pitiful 29% on Rotten Tomatoes.

As a fan of Hart, it was lovely to see his dream of becoming an action star come true.

However — and I accept that I may not like change much — I do wish to see him in more comedy roles. The prior action-comedies I mention — Central Intelligence and Ride Along — are my favourite action comedies. 

However, much like in Fatherhood and The Upside, it is always enjoyable to see Hart explore his range as an actor.