Film Review – Logan Lucky
No one in the industry seemed to believe Steven Soderbergh‘s lofty retirement announcement in 2013, especially considering that his producing and television credits continued to mount. For his first feature directorial effort since the fantastic Liberace biopic Behind The Candelabra, Soderbergh jumps stealthily back to Ocean’s Eleven form for Logan Lucky, the most enjoyable two hours you’ll spend sitting down this August. God bless your inability to sit at home and paint, Steven.
Recent muse Channing Tatum (Soderbergh also directed Magic Mike) stars as Jimmy Logan, a loving father who can’t pay his phone bill and loses his only source of income after being caught hiding a limp on the construction site. With the aid of his brother Clyde (Adam Driver) and sister Mellie (Riley Keough), Jimmy wants to lift the family’s supposed curse and score a big payday. Solution? Let’s rob ourselves a NASCAR race.
It’d be an easy out to paint these characters as dim, given the North Carolina setting and penchant for Bob Seger t-shirts, but Soderbergh’s deft touch for detail allows for a wealthy employment of unseen details to help flesh the siblings out. Jimmy is a decent man driven to desperate means after his ex-wife (Katie Holmes in a limited but fun role) informs him they’ll soon be moving across state lines. Clyde, meanwhile, is a subdued bartender with a prosthetic arm resulting from an unseen stint in Iraq. Neither men seem deserved of their life’s doles, making it that much easier to root for them when the highly elaborate details of the NASCAR heist begin falling into place.
The meticulous and often purposely obscured planning of the heist is arguably the centerpiece of the film. Well, that and the crackerjack, against-typecasting of Daniel Craig as Joe Bang, explosives extraordinaire and possessor of the most spot-on movie character name since Cruella de Vil. Craig appears to be having a blast here, sporting a bleached-out haircut and sprawling Southern drawl. The recent announcement of his return as Bond almost disappoints me as it gives him less opportunity to play around in the cinematic sandbox a little bit.
IMDB is quick to tell me there are a number of fun cameos from the NASCAR world and I’m quick to tell you I didn’t recognize a single one. I did recognize Family Guy‘s Seth MacFarlane despite a ghastly wig and British accent, though, so give me a little credit.
Logan Lucky‘s bag of tricks keeps on giving, even when you think you’ve seen things from every conceivable angle. In the hands of a less confident director, some of the late-in-the-game reveals could come across as contrived or showy. Soderbergh, though, knows never to speak down to his audience and injects this honky-tonk heist movie with surprising logic and flair.
So cast aside those August doldrums and tuck into the summer’s breeziest action comedy. Soderbergh is back, baby, and if Logan’s Lucky is any indication, he hasn’t missed a beat.