Logan Lucky Review
Steven Soderbergh returns to the big screen with a Southern set heist film starring Channing Tatum and Adam Driver.
Determined to change his luck and his fortune Jimmy Logan sets about planning a heist on the biggest race day: the Coca Cola 600.After roughly a four year hiatus from the silver screen, Steven Soderbergh marks his return with a film that, although it may be reminiscent of his successful Ocean’s franchise in narrative, is altogether something different. Soderbergh this time has traded in the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas to the Southern state of West Virginia and the slick suits for old band and slogan t-shirts and a few stetsons to boot. The Logan family is long rumoured to have suffered a string of bad luck when it comes to life in general. Take Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum), once destined to be a pro footballer with the NFL, that was until he busted his knee leaving him with a noticeable limp. His brother Clyde (Adam Driver) wanted to follow in his big brother’s footsteps and make a name for himself in their small town, so he joined the army.
After serving two tours he comes back alive, albeit minus half an arm. The family curse goes way back according to Clyde, as he tells his brother while he tends the bar in which he works. Luckily for their younger sister Mellie (Riley Keough) the curse hasn’t seemed to have taken a hold on her - Mellie works as a hairdresser and has a definite fondness for fast cars and driving. Jimmy’s life on the other hand hasn’t veered away from the family tradition all that much, he’s just lost his job as a miner beneath the Charlotte Motor Speedway and found out that his ex-wife Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes - who despite having limited screen time is actually pretty good) and her new husband are moving from their hometown of Boone in West Virginia to Lynchburg, taking his young daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie) with them.
So, with no job and no money to pay a lawyer Jimmy hatches a plan to change his luck - a plan that involves a heist, a truck load of cash, NASCAR, his younger sister Mellie, Clyde and a convict by the name of Joe Bang who specialises in safes (Daniel Craig) - along with his two brothers Fish and Sam. You see, Jimmy’s former job made him privy to the sheer level of cash that was moving from the food courts and tills above ground at the race track to the vault below ground. With a carefully thought out 10 point to-do list which involves busting Joe out of prison for the duration of the heist (and getting him back inside before anyone notices) cockroaches and a birthday cake - not to mention a number of other necessary jobs to put the whole thing into motion - this unlikely crew set about sorting their bank balances for life.
It’s a simplified, watered down kind of slick filmmaking that Soderbergh has mustered up here
Soderbergh plays it super cool with Logan Lucky and doesn’t give in to typical expectations or plot devices. Yes, this is a heist film but it plays by a whole different set of rules. Taking the film to West Virginia and centring on a group of characters who might be described as ‘white trash’ could have come across as a quick and easy attempt for cheap laughs. But this never transpires. The laughs come from great acting and a great script. Driver and Tatum both play down their roles and offer up a dead pan like comedy that occurs so easily and effortlessly that it is just perfect. Likewise each quip and line that Craig - seen here in a very different get up to the sleek and sexy bond - dishes out always lands on queue. Joe’s two brothers, Fish (Jack Quaid) and Sam (Brian Gleeson), could easily be the most stereotypical characters on screen with Fish, a self proclaimed computer expert, claiming he knows ‘all the Twitters’ – however it never comes across as malice or derogatory. Even when Jimmy’s daughter is getting a spray tan (but not as you’d know it) to get ready for the pageant she’s entering, fully made up to look like a mini beauty queen, it isn’t completely garish or hideous, but that is probably more a testament to Mackenzie than anything.
The real beauty of Logan Lucky is the way Soderbergh doesn’t give everything away immediately. He carefully sets little plot devices up and puts various pieces into play that at first seem completely random but eventually all come together at the right point. However, there are still things that you would expect to happen in a heist film that never transpire and things happen that you would not expect. It’s not a nail biting, tension building movie, but more of a casual, easy does it type of film. Our characters never seem phased at the prospect of being arrested or caught, they just take it in their stride, as though it’s just another day in West Virginia. There's a few jibes at social media and the use of technology along with the endless spate of nonsense franchise films, even Game Of Thrones gets a mention in a prison stand off, which reinforces the simplicity of the film.
There really is so much packed that the more I think about it, the more it warrants a second viewing. And right at the end, when you finally think you have it all sussed out, Soderbergh throws another curve ball into the mix leaving the ending wide open and the film itself well worth checking out.
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