Logan Lucky

logan_luckySTARS3When auteur Steven Soderbergh announced that he was retiring from making theatrical films back in 2013, he never said he was quitting the business entirely. Side Effects was to be his last feature, but he was going to keep working. The most notable projects being the HBO Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra, serving as cinematographer / editor on Magic Mike XXL and directing the Cinemax TV series The Knick. So it’s perhaps not too big of a surprise that he’s back in front of the camera helming another theatrical movie again. However, you’d think the property that could coax him out of “retirement” would have to be pretty vital. Logan Lucky is well produced and competently organized. Even so, the material is a lightweight entry befitting of its end-of-the summer release date.

The comedic drama revolves mainly around siblings Jimmy (Channing Tatum) and Clyde (Adam Driver). Relegated to a bit part is their sister Mellie Logan (Riley Keough). They plan a heist at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Oh but not on just any day – during the biggest race of the year, the Coca-Cola 600. They need a safecracker and so they enlist the help of John Bang (Daniel Craig). Minor issue – Bang is in prison so that complicates things considerably. Let’s face it, what these guys are doing is a crime, but Jimmy is such a sweet guy at heart so we’re on his side right from the beginning. He has a growing list of problems that sort of justifies his actions. He’s trying to reverse the Logan family curse. He lost his construction job at the NASCAR stadium and now his ex-wife (Katie Holmes) is planning to move out of state taking his cutie pie daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie) with her.

The actors sell their parts with accents and wardrobe.  The ensemble cast meshes together in the most delightful way. Soderbergh has an established association with Tatum having also directed him in Haywire, Magic Mike, and Side Effects.  Actor Adam Driver looks nothing like Tatum, but their relationship as brothers is still credible. Actress Riley Keough, who plays his sister, was in Magic Mike as well.  Soderbergh directed them both in that so there’s a built-in chemistry that already exists.  Daniel Craig is particularly memorable as a wacky safecracker. With his bleached buzz cut hair and pale appearance, he almost looks like someone with albinism. Furthermore, he’s about as animated as I’ve ever seen him.  The actor is clearly having fun and he’s part of the many highs. There are lows. An unnecessary subplot featuring an arrogant British mogul/NASCAR sponsor (Seth MacFarlane) could have been excised completely. And everything comes to a grinding halt to present a saccharine moment at a beauty pageant that is so at odds with the rest of the picture, that it almost works in spite of itself. It serves to remind us how Little Miss Sunshine managed such gimmicks with ease.

Those frequent allusions to other movies are what keeps this from achieving greatness in its own right. The heist story is so “been there done that.”  This is basically Soderbergh’s own Ocean’s Eleven with a southern twist. One character actually makes reference to “Ocean’s 7-Eleven” when ambushing a convenience store. Gags don’t get more meta than that. As with any tale about people we’re supposed to like, the comedy is lighthearted and not derisive. The script is careful to make sure you’re laughing WITH these southerners, not AT them. They may be country bumpkins but they’re pretty smart about executing the complex details of this caper.  Jimmy Logan could be a criminal mastermind. The burglary involves a pneumatic system of hydraulic tubes for moving money at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. It’s hard to explain but enjoyable to watch. There’s a comic zaniness to the hillbillies-in-hardship which recalls the Coen brothers Raising Arizona and O Brother, Where Art Thou? Steven Soderbergh has and always will be a craftsman. Logan Lucky is nicely photographed, efficiently made and constructed with quality. It’s a pleasant little piffle but somehow I’ve come to expect a bit more from the director.

08-17-17

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11 Responses to “Logan Lucky”

  1. smilingldsgirl Says:

    It kind of reminded me of Talladega Nights which is so funny. I think my favorite joke was with the prison riot and Game of Thrones. I agree about Seth MacFarlane and it should have ended with the hiest. The Hillary Swank stuff didnt work but I still had a great time with this.

  2. Really had a good time with the characters and their costumes here! Daniel Craig was worth the price of admission alone for me. Where it fell short for me, rather than at the pageant, was during the investigation tacked on at the end. It felt an unnecessary retread of the plot, and it definitely felt like a waste of Macon Blair and Hilary Swank. Though I didn’t mind them. They really added to this ensemble, if in name alone.

    • I think the Hilary Swank stuff was added in the hopes of her story leading to a possible sequel. That bar scene at the end hinted in that direction. Given the way this performed at the box office, I assume that’s not happening anymore.

      • Haven’t looked at the numbers myself but that’s not surprising. Pity, cuz these characters are great! Though I think I’d prefer this to be a one-off

  3. This was good. However, everything came too easy. There really wasn’t any realistic challenges. I got some laughs, and liked it a lot. Just could’ve been better. 3 stars

    • I know what you mean. There’s the risk that they could get caught, but there’s never any pressing danger. It goes rather smoothly. Soderbergh is going for a breezy jaunt of a heist.

  4. As a Soderbergh lover, this sounds like a great film. Just need to get my schedule in order so I can see it and other movies.

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