Logan Lucky: Film Review
Cast: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, Seth MacFarlane, Hilary Swank
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Back behind the camera after 4 years, director Steven Soderbergh's latest is a hillbilly heist-cum-low-key-shaggy dog story that's bizarrely watchable and surprisingly fun - if overlong.
Tatum stars as the titular Jimmy Logan, a divorced dad family whose luck always seems to be on the downturn. His brother Clyde lost part of his arm in Iraq and now works in a bartender and his sister Mellie (Keough) works as a beautician; the trio live in West Virginia and are as middle America as they come.
Fired from his latest job, Jimmy decides to assemble a crew to launch an ambitious plan to rip off the annual Coca-cola NASCAR rally. Calling on jailed crim and explosives expert Joe Bang (played with blonde buzz cut and grim humour by James Bond himself Daniel Craig), Jimmy decides to launch the scheme - regardless of the fact that Bang, their main helper, is incarcerated.
There's a great deal of low key humour and extraneous threads in Logan Lucky that, when all tied together, prove to make this film a bit of a home-run in many ways.
From its John Denver tinged opening, via way of its child beauty pageants and talent shows to the embracing of the NASCAR racing itself, Logan Lucky becomes an Ocean's 11 style caper that's very much at the heart of midwestern America and its sentiments and values.
And the idea of a down-on-their-luck family trying to turn it all around and taking on the system very much goes to the heart of current American woes as well.
Tatum delivers a low-key turn that's watchable, relatable and imbued with a heart; equally, Driver delivers a slightly slower-voiced performance as a little brother who's very much in the shadow of his brother. Even Keough and Holmes as a slightly monstrous ex are spot on as well. Craig has a bit of fun, cutting loose as the locked-up crim - but none of the main characters have any hints of darkness around them, making them all seem greatly accessible throughout the contagious film's run time.
But it's the script by first-timer Rebecca Blunt that helps Logan Lucky and elevates it into a story that's worth the ride. (One scene involving a prison riot and George R R Martin will go down as the single-most leftfield and welcome digression alone in cinema this year.)
Granted, it could have lost some time and some moments.
MacFarlane's boorish British race car driver seems a bit OTT and pointless; equally, Katherine Waterston is wasted in a role that demands little of her and Swank's turn as an FBI agent trying to get to the root of the heist feels like the film's extended proceedings for no good narrative reason.
All in all though, Logan Lucky, with its hillbilly hucksters, Oh Brother Where Art Thou? heist heart and terrific charisma, marks a welcome return for Soderbergh and a welcome diversion from all the other standard fare currently clogging the box office.