REVIEW: LOGAN LUCKY
Running Length: 119 minutes
Release Date: 25th August 2017
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Riley Keough
Written by: Rebecca Blunt
Cinematography: Steven Soderbergh
Four years is pretty lame as retirements go. Some directors take that long between projects. In fairness, when Steven Soderbergh announced that he was hanging up his spurs back in 2013, nobody really believed him. After completing Behind the Candelabra for HBO, the Oscar-winning director had become exhausted with the endless financial hoop-jumping and with some of the more mundane aspects of filmmaking. During his sabbatical, Soderbergh dabbled in TV (The Knick), recut some classic movies and did a bit of blogging. Somewhere along the way he rediscovered his mojo. The subgenre heist Logan Lucky marks Soderbergh’s return to mass-market filmmaking. And it’s everything we could have hoped for.
A “come in and close the door” talk with his foreman sees blue collar Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) losing his mining job. Brother Clyde (Adam Driver) has returned from two tours in Afghanistan without an arm and convinced that the Logan clan is cursed with pan-generational bad luck. Jimmy’s vindictive ex (Katie Holmes) wants to up sticks with his daughter and move to a better life across the state. In need of some swift supplemental income, Jimmy plans to rob the vault beneath the Charlotte Nascar racetrack. The Logans enlist the help of psychotic safecracker Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), who in turn enlists the help of his two idiot brothers (“All the Twitters. I know ’em”). But before Bang can put his expertise, glue and Gummi Bears to work, he must first break out of prison. And back in again before anyone notices.
Yes, Logan Lucky is another heist movie from the director of the Ocean’s trilogy (Soderbergh gets the “Ocean’s 7-11” joke in before some sarky film critic has the chance).
There’s a down-at-heel aesthetic and grass roots grittiness here that is the antithesis of the George Clooney/Brad Pitt sleekness. If the characters of Raising Arizona performed Ocean’s Eleven, it would look like Logan Lucky. The Logans’ brand of Southern smart bears more than a hint of Marge Gunderson’s Minnesota nice. Jimmy and Clyde may seem dumb as a bag of squirrels on the surface, but there’s a savvy streak buried underneath.
Each member of the ensemble cast shows off a surprising (and in some cases untapped) flair for comic timing. Soderbergh has drawn from a pool of actors that look interesting rather than “screen” pretty. Craig is obviously having a ball – all camp enunciation and crap tattoos – and enjoying some time off from Bond. Tatum is noticeably doughier around the edges since his Magic Mike days, and Driver’s deadpan delivery fits the Coen-esque dialogue perfectly. Like Hell or High Water with jokes, Rebecca Blunt’s script is a Black List-worthy delight (It’s possible that the previously unheard of Blunt is another of Soderbergh’s many pseudonyms).
On the other side of the coin is Seth McFarlane; a silly, irrelevant misstep doing Dick Van Dyke dressed as Thriller-era Michael Jackson. A saggy middle spends a little too much time on the “how” technicalities of the heist at the expense of story and character. But just as things look like they’re reaching a predictable conclusion Soderbergh switches gears and narrative structures. The final 30 minutes is where the magician reveals the misdirection that made the trick possible.
Logan Lucky feels like reconnecting with an old friend and instantly falling back into familiar patterns. It’s a low-brow blast of pure entertainment. Soderbergh’s easygoing brand of gratification has been sorely missed. It’s good to have him back.