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"Lift" 4K Review

 Have you ever wished that someone would do a remake of The Italian Job but with fewer stars & a ludicrous plot slathered in CGI? Well, you're in luck because that film's director, F. Gary Gray (The Fate of the Furious, Straight Outta Compton) and Netflix have joined forces to give you Lift, a perfectly forgettable caper comedy starring Kevin Hart. Buckle up for adequacy!

Hart stars as Cyrus, the mastermind of a diverse crew of high-tech heisters who we meet executing a caper in Venice (same as in The Italian Job) involving the faked kidnapping of an artist to goose the value of an NFT (the hottest fad of 2022 when this project was probably greenlit) being sold at auction. But the true purpose of that caper was to distract from the actual theft of a Van Gogh, the pre-sale of which funded the NFT purchase and oh boy it's sure convenient how everything perfectly worked out, no?

Except it didn't. Somehow, it's never really explained, but the art thief part of the gang get busted by Interpol (the crime fighting outfit, not the band) and Agent Abby (Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Loki) under orders from her boss, Huxley (Sam Worthington, Avatar), offers Cyrus amnesty for the team if they help Interpol by stealing a half-billion dollar shipment of gold being moved by a terrorism financier, Jorgenson (Jean Reno), who intends to pay a cyber hacker group to wreak havoc while he profits from the chaos which ensues. The catch is that the heist will have to occur while the plane is in midair.

So they come up with a wildly complicated scheme involving a experimental party plane converted into a stealth plane, drones and cloned transponders, laser safe cracking, and lurking underneath is the fact that Cyrus and Abby had a brief fling in the past. Gee, will those two crazy kids fall in love again? Will this complicated caper with zero room for error work out?

While Lift is just another one of Netflix's disposable entertainment products like Red Notice or Heart of Stone - I defy you to tell me what either of those were about - the fact it's the director of The Italian Job doing an anemic knockoff of that movie 20 years later makes its deficiencies even more glaringly apparent, starting with the cast.

TIJ had Marky Mark, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Edward Norton, Seth Green, Mos Def, and Donald Sutherland. Lift has Hart, Mbatha-Raw, Worthington, Vincent D'Onofrio as a bad "master of disguise", then some hot Spanish actress (Ursula Corbero) and a hot Korean actress (Kim Yun Jee) I've never heard of, a British Indian actor (Viveik Kalra) I've never heard of and some other white guy (Billy Magnussen) I've never heard of.

But being unknown wouldn't matter if screenwriter Daniel Kunka, whose only other credit is the 2009 John Cena vehicle 12 Rounds, gave these characters something interesting about them. D'Onofrio's mediocre skills are given the most time, but never actually factor into any of the plan's elements. Compare that to the scene in TIJ where Charlize Theron's safecracker has to pose as a cable TV repair tech to case bad guy Edward Norton's mansion which was bought with the proceeds of the opening heist which led to his double-crossing the team and murdering her father. Or how Mos Def had a bad experience with dogs. Or the scene where Seth Green imagines Statham's conversation with a cable tech whose ID they need to steal for Theron's part.

But more critically is that with a few exceptions like can you really blow up an Los Angeles street to drop a armored truck down into a tunnel, much of what is shown in TIJ is technically possible and was done practically with Mini Coopers which could fit into hallways and storm sewer tunnels to haul the gold. (Even the target is the same!) Lift relies on CGI effects - many of which are pretty obvious, especially how exterior scenes were clearly shot on green screen stages - and almost none of it could really happen in real life and combined with the lack of danger to anyone (they should've killed one of the unknowns) means the stakes are nonexistent.

 For those shelling out the $23 for top tier Netflix service where the 4K content is reserved - Amazon Prime and Mouse+ don't charge extra for 4K, but Max (formerly Hobo Max) just pulled this crap on linear subscribers - get Dolby Vision & Dolby Atmos sound and it's shiny  and bright, but lends to the disposable & plastic vibe of the whole endeavor.

While Lift isn't really a drag, it doesn't soar as we're supposed to believe. If you've run out of books to read and watched every other thing on Netflix, it suffices as something to look at, but if you're looking for a good caper flick with charismatic stars and plausible exciting action, stick with the original.

Score: 5/10. Skip this & watch The Italian Job instead.


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