Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Riley Keough, David Denham
Written by: Rebecca Blunt
Running Time; 118 Mins
Release date: 25th August 2017
Four years ago, director Steven Soderbergh announced his retirement from movie direction to pursue other creative interests. Now he is back from retirement to start where he left off, with another heist movie that follows very similar lines from his Ocean’s 11 series, only difference is that it’s more of a dumb-down variation, without the sharp suits and smooth operations, setting the film in West Virginia and having the masterminds of the crime not made up of the sharpest criminals.
Jimmy Logan is a man down on his luck. He’s just lost his job mining underneath the Charlotte Nascar racetrack; he has a daughter who he adores but an ex-wife who wants him to be a better father; a brother with one arm working at a bar and a curse of bad luck that hangs over the family. Jimmy decides to rob the same Nascar track but needs help from his family, from two less-than-smart bothers and Joe Bangs, an explosives expert who just happens to be in prison.
Soderbergh and screenwriter Rebecca Blunt (who may or may not be Soderbergh under a pseudonym) have crafted a film brimming with energy and a sense of fun that could be Ocean’s 11’s long lost brother. In fact, one of the cast members calls this Ocean’s 7/11. We get the set up to a virtually impossible crime where the characters are introduced so we don’t see them as pure evil willing to harm or are committing the crime for the sake of greed. The film does have stereotypes scattered throughout (the Southern “redneck” folk played for laughs with low IQ’s and a British accent that doesn’t exactly come from Britain but an idea of Britain).
Jimmy and his brother, Clyde is simple folks trying to make ends meet. Jimmy wants to be the best he can for his daughter and yet just cannot get his act together. Clyde, a veteran, now works in a bar and doesn’t have any ambitions in his life except to avoid the curse he believes that hangs over the family. Third in this family is Mellie, their sister and the only one who seems to have her head screwed on right.
The second act is the execution of the crime, as Jimmy has to plan to break out Joe Bangs from prison so no one would notice he is missing while using the tunnels he has become familiar with when working under the stadium to commit the crime. By the final act, the story does lose its footing slightly until we get to see the robbery from another angle. Yet all the while the film is brimming with fun and a zany sense of comedy. In fact, you could say this Soderbergh meets the Coen Brothers, it has that same offbeat humour running through it.
The performances from the starry cast all inject an infectious energy. Channing Tatum seems to go from strength to strength and here he is not only likeable but handles the comedy well. Adam Driver proves once again that he is an accomplished performer, delivering a quietly understated performance as Clyde. Seth MacFarlane pops up as a British Nascar driver and with Don Cheadle in the Ocean’s films, this is another dodgy English accent. The winner here, however, is Daniel Craig as Joe Bangs. With bleached white hair and a pitch perfect Southern accent, he seems to be having so much fun with a role as far removed from James Bond as possible. He manages to lift the film every time he steps on screen.
Logan Lucky is fun, it’s flippant and while you are watching it, you are having a good time. There are a handful of decent jokes. Not as many as I would have liked but when they do come, they hit the target. It’s never going to change the face of the heist movie and it doesn’t add anything to the genre but you don’t mind giving your time over to these hapless characters. It’s also nice to have Soderbergh back where he belongs and hopefully he will deliver something with more substance next time.