2017, PG-13, 119 mins.
Channing Tatum as Jimmy Logan / Adam Driver as Clyde Logan / Riley Keough as Mellie Logan / Daniel Craig as Joe Bang / Hilary Swank as Sarah Grayson / Seth MacFarlane as Max Chilblain / Katie Holmes as Bobbie Jo Logan Chapman / Katherine Waterston as Sylvia Harrison / Sebastian Stan as Dayton White / Brian Gleeson as Sam Bang / David Denman as Moody
Directed by Steven Soderbergh / Written by Rebecca Blunt
Soderbergh publicly retired from directing films back in 2013 with his
last feature being SIDE EFFECTS.
aside, the Oscar winning filmmaker eventually did soften up a tad on his
then firm stance that he was going to actively stand down from making
He made the HBO film BEHIND
THE CANDELABRA and then worked on the small screen with THE KNICK.
Now comes the somewhat awfully titled LOGAN LUCKY (which sounds like
a porn version of everyone's favorite Marvel Comics mutant hero), which has
resurrected Soderbergh out of self-imposed retirement and
back into a genre that he's intuitively familiar with - the heist flick.
Overwhelming sensations of been there, done that will, no
doubt, overcome Soderbergh disciples while watching LOGAN LUCKY,
especially considering that it bares more than a fleeting resemblance to
OCEAN'S ELEVEN and its two sequels.
stakes for said heists in the OCEAN's films were decidedly higher and more
glamorous, whereas LOGAN LUCKY deals with more blue collar country
bumpkins that are looking to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the
There are indeed times throughout this Southern fried film when
Soderbergh seems to be trying to harness his madcap and zany inner Coen
Brothers in the sense that he populate's his film with loveable dimwitted losers,
but he nevertheless manages to make the overall effort uniquely his own
with his characteristic smooth and focused direction.
LOGAN LUCKY, as a result, may just be Soderbergh's goofiest film on
his resume, but he never allows it to be drowned in overt absurdity or
southern stereotypes (even though there are ample amounts of both
It could be easily said that the material here - albeit with a
change of scenery and characters - is no stretch for the filmmaker, but
its efficient and capricious energy makes the overall effort a modest hoot
Soderbergh dryly acknowledges in LOGAN LUCKY that OCEAN'S ELEVEN is indeed an
inspiration (one news report of the film's central caper refers to the
backwater hicks that perpetrated it as "Ocean's 7-Eleven).
Channing Tatum stars Jimmy Logan, a recently unemployed
construction worker that decides to put everything on the line for robbing
a vault at a North Carolina speedway during a NASCAR event.
He decides on this target based on the fact that he worked
construction on the speedway, which has given him intimate knowledge
of major access points and the comings of goings of key personal. Realizing
that the scope of robbing such a large target is remarkably daunting,
Jimmy decides to enlist in the assistance of his one armed brother, Clyde
(Adam Driver) and sister, Mellie (Riley Keogh).
Unfortunately for the trio, they soon understand that they're going
to need a crackerjack locksmith to break into the massive vault, so they
decide to recruit the very appropriately named Joe Bang (Daniel
Craig)...with one big catch: he's currently in prison.
The foursome then hatches out a fairly ingenious plan to break Joe
out of the slammer, use him during the heist, and then return him back
to prison without anyone being none the wiser.
It's a labyrinthine scheme that would make Danny Ocean blush with
I don't want to relay
too much more about Jimmy's plan, which would all but erode many of
the sublime surprises of LOGAN LUCKY, other than to say that it's a hell
of lot more clever than I was frankly expecting involving
With a script from first-time screenwriter Rebecca Blunt (a highly
suspicious credit, seeing as Soderbergh has cheekily used pseudonyms for
many of his past film's key crew participants), Soderbergh manages to keep
us guessing even though he's clearly crafted a caper film that's comfortably within
his aesthetic wheelhouse.
In many respects, Soderbergh peppers the film with classic country
and rock tunes (one by John Denver in particular also serves as a
surprisingly touching plot point and effective dramatic payoff late in the story).
There are instances when the characters that permeate LOGAN LUCKY
seem to become cornball caricatures, and it's easy to detect an aura of
slight mockery that Soderbergh has for them.
Yet, he never paints his personas as total red necked morons (even though
some of them are), and aspects of their heist are fiendishly smart (even
though some parts are kind of laughable).
character of Joe Bang, who superficially comes off as just as
nonsensically absent minded as Jimmy and his cohorts.
Yet, this bleach blonde buzz cutt and tattoo obsessed
hooligan/criminal has, in actuality, a fairly penetrating
knowledge of advanced chemistry, which is employed during once facet of
the robbery, albeit with some unexpected results.
Joe is indicative of LOGAN LUCKY's unwillingness to be wholly
convention and the film instead throws subtle curveballs at viewers to constantly
keep us off balance.
Plus, Daniel Craig's frequently gut-busting performance as this
"in-car-cer-ated" demolitions experts is arguably the most
joyously unhinged and unpredictable of the 007 actor's career.
It takes a special level of performance commitment and talent to
segue from playing ultra suave British secret agents in one film to
inhabiting someone as off-kiltered, socially uncoordinated, and ungainly
as Joe. Even
though Craig's southern accent - much like his co-stars - gets a bit too
obtrusively showy and obvious, his madcap dedication to the role is
endlessly commendable; Craig has never been more rascally hysterical in a
Still, I only
wished that the characters overall in LOGAN LUCKY were afforded a bit more
well rounded depth (Tatum's Jimmy is perhaps the only one of the bunch
that's afforded a satisfying personal arc).
One of the nagging issues with the film is that it frequently pops
in some characters and introduces us to them early (like a nurse played by
Katherine Waterston), only to then abandon them until very late in the
picture to the point where we've literally forgotten that they were even
in it. Then
there's some other seemingly last minute additions (like a determined FBI
agent - in a horribly underwritten role - played by Hilary Swank) that are
thrown in a little too arbitrarily and late for their own good.
This leads to one of the most glaring faults of LOGAN LUCKY, which
is its inability to find a suitable ending.
Running at nearly two hours, the film is too bloated and stuffed
and could have benefited from 15 or so minutes trimmed from it to become a
breezier and more exemplary paced comedy.
The final act specifically drags on so badly that it inspires
frequent watch checking and contains multiple points where Soderbergh
could have easily provided story closure.
And, yeah, maybe
I'm somewhat disappointed to see someone of the likes of Soderbergh coming
out of retirement to helm something that's not entirely a stretch for him.
Remove the southern flavor and substitute in NASCAR for Las Vegas
casinos and LOGAN LUCKY is, for all intents and purposes, a wackier dumbed
down version of OCEAN'S ELEVEN.
The pleasures to be had in LOGAN LUCKY mirror those of the many
heists of Danny Ocean and his crew, but that doesn't preclude that this
film isn't worthy of consumption.
It's a smartly assembled caper comedy about blue collar criminals that's as consummately assembled as any
Soderbergh popcorn feature, and its cast overall seems uniformly focused
on delivering well earned laughs at the expense of their characters'
Very few directors can orchestrate silver screen heists as
entertainingly and stylishly as Soderbergh.
Even though LOGAN LUCKY operates a tad too much on autopilot for
the acclaimed filmmaker, I'd rather see a phoned in Soderbergh effort than
any half-hearted and soulless offering from a lesser director that's
permeated the past summer film season; he's still someone I'd bet the house on