Netflix is known for releasing both high-quality and low-quality original films.
Films like "Lift" and "A Fall from Grace" have received poor reviews from critics but have high viewership numbers.
"Lift" is a heist film starring Kevin Hart and directed by F. Gary Gray.
Netflix is known for creating exciting films and series that push television and streaming to the forefront of the culture. As often as they release good material, the company is also known for releasing low-quality original films like Kevin Hart’s Lift, which are a dud with critics but have substantial viewership numbers.
This trend has been part of the company’s business model since it became a streaming service. Films like Lift and Tyler Perry’s A Fall from Grace are perfect examples. These two releases scored poorly with critics but have considerable numbers in the ratings department. People enjoy these films on some level, and despite constant criticism for the mediocrity of so many original Netflix films, the company keeps pumping them out regularly.
Netflix and Kevin Hart’s Lift
Lift is a heist film that stars famous comedic actor Kevin Hart, who portrays Cyrus Whitaker. Cyrus leads an international heist crew that specializes in stealing art. When his ex-girlfriend, Interpol agent Abby Gladwell (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), catches the team lifting an NFT, she recruits them to lift $500 million in gold off a plane to prevent a terrorist attack. The Italian Job and The Fate of the Furious director F. Gary Gray directed the film.
Based on viewership numbers, Lift has been another roaring success for Netflix, with the film receiving over 38 million views in its first week of release. Critics, however, are left scratching their heads, wondering which film all those viewers were watching. The film’s Rotten Tomatoes score stands at a rotten 30 per cent, with reviewers like Christy Lemire saying that the film is, ‘as generic and forgettable as its title, the kind of glossy, empty action picture that Netflix just keeps pumping out, whether we need it or not, competently made and star-studded, with a couple of intriguing ideas, but hollow.’
As Lemire and others have been lamenting for years, the streaming giant releases a constant stream of mediocre films that seem to create a television experience akin to the dark days when Hallmark dominated cable television. Hallmark is known for cheesy, low-budget romantic movies people have a guilty pleasure for. These films can be made for a dime and offer a high return financially.
Netflix has these types of films like Falling for Christmas starring Lindsay Lohan, but Lift, and other Netflix originals such as Adam Sandler’s Ridiculous 6 and Red Notice starring The Rock, Chris Pine and Gal Gadot, have huge budgets into the tens and hundreds of millions. Despite their vast budgets, these films are often chintzy with a low-quality plot, making them easily comparable to those Hallmark films we all used to watch.
To be fair, Lift is spunky, with funny dialogue, exciting action and heist scenes, but at the end of the day, it’s nothing we haven’t seen a hundred times before. The mid-level quality of these films makes for an uneventful experience, with Lift and Red Notice acting as ways to pass the time when there’s nothing else to watch, just as in the days of cable TV and Hallmark.
Despite their low scores with critics, films like The Do-Over with Sandler and James Spader score big with viewers, meaning Netflix has no incentive to increase quality standards for these original films. The nature of streaming television may give these films a pass with viewers. If you can sit back and relax at home , your quality standards drop automatically, and you are more amenable to fluff and mediocrity.
Lift, Red Notice, and The Do-Over follow a safe and proven formula that appeals to average viewers looking for an easy-to-follow movie that doesn’t tax you emotionally or require mental labour to understand the plot. You don’t have to pay for a ticket and snacks at the cinema complex, meaning your expectations are significantly lower. Whatever the case, people enjoy these films, and as long as they have such substantial viewer numbers, Netflix won’t stop the mediocrity anytime soon.
What are your thoughts on Lift and other Netflix Original Films? Can you live with the easy-to-watch mediocrity?
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