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The Beekeeper (2024) vs. Lift (2024)

This is a review for the 2024 movies: The Beekeeper and Lift.

The two major action movie releases of January 2024 have been The Beekeeper and Lift. The Beekeeper is a movie from David Ayer (Suicide Squad, Fury) starring Jason Statham, that was released to theatres. Lift is a Netflix original heist movie starring Kevin Hart, from F Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton). Both are stupid, derivative messes that are embarrassments to movies. Yet, I enjoyed one of them; and hated the other.

What is The Beekeeper?

The Beekeeper is a pretty blatant knock-off of the John Wick franchise. Statham plays a humble beekeeper, whose life is turned upside down when his only friend, an elderly lady, is found dead. It’s discovered that she killed herself, after becoming the victim to a phone scam that led to her losing millions. On a mission for revenge, Statham seeks out the people responsible for this scam and kills them. Then, he seeks out their bosses and kills them too. Then, for good measure, he seeks out their bosses… progressing up the chain until he has to kill the President (UNIT’s Jemma Redgrave) and her son (Josh Hutcherson).

It turns out that Statham is part of a discontinued government programme of beekeepers – super soldiers designed to operate outside of the system, doing whatever it takes to “protect the hive”. The words “protect the hive” are probably said fifty times throughout this movie, and it rules every single time. With more bee puns than Bee Movie, it’s so much fun that you don’t ever stop and wonder “wait, what is even in the point in him being a beekeeper?”. It’s so that he can “protect the hive”, you idiot! Duh!

My favourite way to explain this movie is that at one point, the bad guy has a gun to Statham’s head. The bad guy says, “To be or not to be? Ain’t that the question.” Statham retorts, as he turns the tables around on the bad guy, “I choose… TO BEE.” It’s a line that makes you fist-pump the air and yell “hell yeah!” so loudly, that you don’t stop and think “wait, why did that first guy even say that?”. It doesn’t matter – it was cool, don’t question it.

What is Lift?

Lift is a Netflix movie: starring Kevin Hart, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sam Worthington, Vincent D’Onofrio and Torchwood’s Burn Gorman. We open with a scene of Hart at an art auction, where he successfully fools Interpol to steal an NFT, supposedly worth more than a Van Gogh painting. It’s incredible how dated that feels, especially given how straight the movie plays this out. Once Hart and his team have been established, they manage to get themselves caught by Interpol – who offer them a deal. Save the world, and all crimes will be forgiven. To save the world, however, they’ll need to hijack a plane and steal a pallet of gold bars.

An “elaborate” heist is planned out, and the team gets to work. Naturally, things go wrong and they have to fight their way to the gold. It’s very by-the-books and doesn’t do anything unexpected. There are a few fun scenes, but most of it is just groan-inducing. Towards the end, Hart drops the line: “need a lift?” and I woke up three days later from a fugue state. This move is bad, but it isn’t bad in an endearing way – like The Beekeeper was. The tricky part is establishing what the difference there is.

Why does The Beekeeper work, yet Lift fails?

The obvious answer is the quality of the leading man. Statham perfectly plays the over-the-top badass, that takes himself too seriously. He plays it completely straight, as if he’s not in on the joke, and that makes the joke so much more enjoyable. Hart, on the other hand, tries to be a charismatic con-man, but is nowhere near as commanding of the screen as Statham. He’s boring and unfunny, which is sad – as we all know that Hart can be better than this. The character that Hart plays, in Lift, is the character that we would celebrate Statham beating up in his movie.

That’s another major connection between the two movies – they both play with modern technology tropes. Both movies involve NFTs and blockchain nonsense. While Lift tries to act like these things are cool, having an NFT ultimately save the day; The Beekeeper presents the people obsessed with these as annoying charlatans, that hurt normal people. It’s incredible how much more reflective the latter is on society. People who use NFTs are annoying cryptobros that tweet about apes and diamond hands. We don’t want to see those guys do cool stuff, we want to see them flounder.

There’s a more boring answer, too. Ayer is just a better director. The action sequences in The Beekeeper are really well done, and every punch feels brutal. There’s no reliance on firearms, meaning that every fight is intimate and connected. Lift, on the other hand, does not pack any such punch – the action sequences feeling more like theme park rides than life-or-death situations.

This was a review for the 2024 movies “The Beekeeper” and “Lift”. Which of these movies did you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.

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