Logan Lucky. 2017
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, Seth MacFarlane, Sebastian Stan, Farrah Mackenzie, Jack Quaid, Brian Gleeson, Katherine Waterston, Dwight Yoakam, Macon Blair, and Hilary Swank.
Two brothers attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina.
By now most filmgoers are aware that Logan Lucky marks the end of directing retirement for Steven Soderbergh (hallelujah), but an incredibly noteworthy piece of information is that the film’s credited writer Rebecca Blunt is believed to be a fictitious person and pseudonym for another writer, possibly Steven Soderbergh himself. Odd touches such as this are to be expected from one of the all-time greats (including a fantastic riff on the “no one was harmed during the making of this film”ending credits graphic), and are just a few reasons why the director hasn’t lost a step during his time away.
Once again collaborating with his Magic Mike series star, Soderbergh (channeling the proven formula of his classic Oceans franchise) places Channing Tatum front and center of Logan Lucky as the honest, down on his luck hard-working man that has a Robin Hood style plan to rob a high profile NASCAR race. He will split the money with everyone involved, and use the hefty amount of cash to finally hire a lawyer that can grant him full custody of his daughter, who is easily the person he cares about most in life and one of the major factors as to why we actually want to see these bumpkin criminals pull off the elaborate heist. The kicker is that Channing Tatum’s Jimmy Logan is the sanest character in the movie, which says a lot considering this is all his blueprint.
Along for the wild ride is his one-armed Iraq war veteran brother played by Adam Driver, their sister played by Riley Keough, and the Bang brothers of which the leader is an IN-CAR-CE-RA-TED Daniel Craig that knows how to make an explosive by substituting Gummy Bears as an ingredient. Trust me, everything from the set up to the actual heist in this movie is off-the-wall creative with a nuanced level of intensity. Back to Daniel Craig though, it’s refreshing to see him actually having fun acting again (he looked like he was sleepwalking throughout the latest James Bond); he’s reveling in playing this loud and sardonic criminal coincidentally already locked up for robbery. Back to Steven Soderbergh’s zany sense of humor, Logan Lucky actually bills Daniel Craig as being introduced to acting for the film which is fitting, it’s a rebirth after nearly being broken by the Hollywood machine. Yes, I realize it was recently confirmed he is playing James Bond one final time, but that doesn’t change how rejuvenated and electric he is as Joe Bang.
The loaded cast continues, as there are a number of supporting players that are just as quirky as everyone else, including Seth MacFarlane (slightly sounding like Family Guy‘s Stewie) as a self-centered social media obsessed manager to Sebastian Stan’s NASCAR driver who at one point gives a monologue on dieting referring to his body as a computer’s operating system. It’s all very strange, but still not the funniest thing in the movie; that honor goes to an outrageous Game of Thrones related conversation. All of these actors deserve just as much credit as Soderbergh, delivering lines equally as idiosyncratic as their personalities. Adam Driver sounds dejected and defeated, putting very little emotion into anything. It makes sense considering he’s a victim of war, but also helps make some of his comedic lines that much more hilarious. Furthermore, the unsung heroes of the movie are definitely the brothers of Joe Bang (Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson), two dimwitted rednecks that fill up the stupid humor part of the entourage despite having their own tricks to contribute to the heist. Who knew someone could be considered the technology guy by knowing “ALL DA TWITTERS”!
With that said, easily one of the strongest reasons Logan Lucky functions as successfully as it does is due to how the characters are both right for the job yet simultaneously prone to screw something up at a moments notice. Criminals or not, these people are presented as extremely likable with good intentions, meaning that whenever something goes wrong it leaves the viewer in a state of both laughter and nervousness hoping that this isn’t where the jig is up. Naturally, since the film deals with prisons to an extent, there is also some relevant social commentary with one scene being an absolute scorcher on how some police operate.
Outside of being a complete blast with perfect pacing (although the epilogue featuring Hilary Swank as an investigator looking into the robbery could have been wrapped up a little bit quicker), Logan Lucky encourages people to reflect on their past. Much of the movie is grounded in past decisions while also promoting the mindset of looking forward; Jimmy has an encounter with an old high school friend now turned nurse played by Katherine Waterston, and with only roughly 5 minutes of interaction their scene is definitely a touching one that comes full circle during the film’s closing moments. The Logan family may have had a curse on them, but this winning outing from returning director Steven Soderbergh has lifted it; Logan Lucky is one madcap heist flick that ranks up there with the best of them.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, friend me on Facebook, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com