From the director of Ocean’s 11 comes a heist movie which swaps out the glitz and glamour for the country bumpkins of West Virginia.
Logan Lucky (2017) is a comedy heist film written by Rebecca Blunt and directed by Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s 11, Contagion). It stars Channing Tatum as Jimmy Logan, a war vet who gets fired from his mining job at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in West Virginia and as a response decides to rob the speedway with the help of his brother Clyde (Adam Driver) and prisoner Joe Bang (Daniel Craig).
Returning from a very short-lived retirement, Soderbergh has come back to mildly familiar territory of a charming heist romp after his wildly successful Ocean’s trilogy. While it doesn’t reach the heights of that first movie’s charm and energy, Logan Lucky is still a solidly entertaining if uneven Soderbergh film.
At the centre of this film is the heist so what better place to start with than there. Soderbergh’s execution has all the trappings and thrills of a classic movie heist – a plan that only gets revealed to the audience as it goes along, close calls, absurdly convenient planning and a third act twist. Its such a shame that the heist itself lacks excitement. Don’t get me wrong, its executed well, and the plan itself is great in its simplicity (as long as you can accept a few massive leaps in logic and planning) but someone amongst the production forgot the yeast as the tension never seems to rise. It feels like just a continuation of the movie rather than the big exciting event that it is to the characters, and considering how much the film builds up to it that’s rather disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, its not bad – but it can barely hold a candle to the grandiose execution of Ocean’s 11.
This isn’t helped by the fact that the film overall could use a seriously tighter edit. It wouldn’t be hard to trim some scenes, cut some others, and ultimately have a much tighter and better flowing narrative than the one on screen. One scene in particular with Katherine Waterson and Channing Tatum feels completely and utterly pointless. The only thing it provides is a little characterisation for Tatum, but even that could be slotted naturally into another part of the movie in order to remove that scene completely. Not only that, but the third act goes on for a solid 10-20 minutes longer than it needs to, and for a heist movie that relies so much on its structure that’s a real problem.
But now that I’ve got my major gripes out of the way we can move on to the actual positives, the most prominent of which is this movie is funny. The bumpkin nature of the South is used to its full effect without feeling mean-spirited, and one amusing situation after another happily presents itself to keep quite consistent laughter echoing through the cinema. It also helps that this movie is incredibly quotable, with line readings that are still etched into my head over a week since I’ve seen the film. One scene in particular which I dare not spoil starts off funny and then just keeps going and getting funnier and funnier with every passing second.
It helps that everyone here is at their A-game performance-wise. Channing Tatum once again proves his comedic chops after 21 Jump Street as Jimmy Logan, while also giving him plenty of opportunity to flex his dramatic pecs as well. Adam Driver is also a real surprise at how funny he is – I never suspected Mr. Emo-Sith had it in him to continually crack great one-liners. However the real star of the show here has to be Daniel Craig, James Bond himself, whose turned in his tuxedo for prison tighty-whiteys and debonair accent for a good ol’ Southern drawl. He’s also arguably the funniest character in the movie and a spectacular departure from his 007 norm. If Logan Lucky is any indication Craig has comedy chops in spades and I would love to see him breaking further into the genre down the road.
It may sound like I’m down on the film thank’s to its loose edit and disappointing heist, but luckily its performances and entertaining writing more than make up for it. Its far from one of Soderbergh’s best, but the endearing characters and consistently funny tone will more than likely keep anyone entertained for a couple of hours. Lucky for us that retirement didn’t last very long.
General Audiences: Recommended
Film Buffs: Recommended