Is Netflix’s Lift Based on a True Story or a Book?

Image Credit: Christopher Barr/Netflix

With F. Gary Gray occupying the director’s chair, Netflix’s ‘Lift‘ is a heist action comedy movie that revolves around a seasoned thief named Cyrus Whitaker and his expert crew, with whom we get acquainted while they are on a mission to rob a Venice Italy auction house; a mission that doesn’t end well for them. However, they receive a get-out-of-jail card as the Interpol agent Abby Gladwell enlists their help to prevent the evil investment banker Lars Jorgensen from completing terrorist payoffs and working on his dangerous plans.

In order to do that, Cyrus and his team must steal $500 million in gold bars on a 777-passenger flight, 40,000 feet in the air. With a star-studded cast of Kevin Hart, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Vincent D’Onofrio, Úrsula Corberó, Billy Magnussen, and Jacob Batalon, in action, the heist film, despite its outlandish plot, has the audience guessing if the story is inspired from true events or not, since more unlikely things have happened in reality in the past.

Is Lift Based on a Novel?

No, ‘Lift’ is not based on a true story. Also, the story is not adapted from a book as the idea and concept for the movie birthed in the mind of the screenwriter, Daniel Kunka. In a December 2022 interview with Lustig & Thornton – Screenwriters, Kunka revealed that he had a to-do list where he listed out all the things he aspired to do. One of the things that stayed on that list for about a decade or so was to write the screenplay for a gold plane heist movie, which was originally a female-led heist movie. Explaining the reason why he never went ahead with the idea for all those years, he said, “It was always too good of an idea not to take off the list but it was never the right idea when I was, like, looking for an idea.”

The interview revealed that it was only in November 2020 that Kunka finally picked up the concept of ‘Lift’ and began the process of turning it into a screenplay. A few months later, in March 2021, it was acquired by Netflix. The filmmaker, F. Gary Gray, opened up about how much he loves directing heist movies. He stated, “I love this genre because it lets me unleash my imagination with cutting-edge technology, draw inspiration from diverse global cultures and experiences, and keeps my love for learning new things fired up. I also love the opportunity to assemble a great ensemble cast, and working with tools that make me feel like a big kid in a futuristic toy store adds an extra layer of excitement to the process.”

In the history of humankind, various heists of all kinds have been pulled off — some ordinary and others extraordinary. Though nothing close to the sort of heist portrayed in ‘Lift’ has ever made headlines, a major gold heist took place at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport in April 2023 as millions of dollars worth of gold and other valuable items went missing after they were unloaded from a plane. Talking of the realm of movies and TV shows, there have been many outlandish heist and robbery productions, with the Úrsula Corberó starrer ‘Money Heist‘ being one of the popular ones. In conclusion, it would be safe to say that ‘Lift’ is neither based on true events nor a book; it is simply a work of fiction.

Read More: Netflix’s Lift: Where Was Kevin Hart’s Movie Shot?