Logan Lucky (2017) directed by Steven Soderbergh
Cursed Logan Luck
Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) loses his mining job for failing to admit to a limp, which is considered a liability for his medical insurance. On top of that, his ex-wife Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes) wants to move across state lines with their daughter in tow - something Jimmy can’t challenge in court as he doesn’t have the money.
He hatches a plan to carry out the ultimate heist: using mining tunnels built underneath a NASCAR circuit, he will break into the safe where all of the money from the complex’s tills is stored. He pays a visit to his bartender brother Clyde (Adam Driver) - who lost his arm in Iraq - and persuades him to help.
The pair also need the help of various other friends and family members, not least being an albino explosives expert called Joe Bang (Daniel Craig). However, there are two problems: firstly, he’s currently incarcerated and secondly, he insists on working with his two rather dumb brothers Fish (Jack Quaid) and Bang (Brian Gleeson). Simply busting Joe out isn’t enough either; he’s got a nest egg waiting for him on the outside, and he doesn’t want to risk extending his stay by being caught on the lam. Hence, they have to put him right back in after the job is done.
Will he instigate what might be the greatest heist in history, or will the old cursed Logan Luck prevail?
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Soderbergh returns to the big screen
That didn’t last long, did it? Steven Soderbergh decided to retire from the film industry in 2013, yet here he’s back. It’s a rather safe, comfortable form of return: a heist movie that plays out like a quirky, Southeast United States variant of Ocean’s Eleven, with a bunch of oddball characters who seem to have wandered in from a Joel & Ethan Coen film.
The heist itself is rather contrived, convoluted and silly. When they come to a potential obstacle there is always either some workaround meticulously setup or some unlikely convenience in place: an old lady in a purple car who distracts the one traffic cop on duty, a pair of boxes that neatly fix to the bottom of a van to allow two prisoners to escape inside them, a chubby office lady who is distracted by a lavish chocolate cake, a makeshift bomb which uses Gummy Bears amongst its ingredients, a prison warden (played by Dwight Yoakam) who seems to be eternally in denial. They are all pulled out of nowhere like objects out of a magician’s hat.
Focus on entertainment
If you were particularly churlish, you could mark the film down on its constant air of cartoon-like daftness. However, that would be to miss the point. It’s a pure dosage of fun, albeit of the most exceptionally well-crafted kind.
As ever, Soderbergh’s direction is effortlessly classy. It moves along at a great pace with some delightfully creative (but never overdone) shooting; check the witty take on the traditional shot-reverse-shot dialogue exchange camerawork during the Logan brothers’ first meeting with Joe, where the camera goes in tightly behind the latter’s distinctive white crew cut to neatly frame both of the former directly above it. There are also those subtle jumps in colour scheme which he has employed to such great effect in other films, only here the palette is far broader than usual - veering from the riotous primaries during the NASCAR and Logan family scenes, to the brown-grey hues of the sequences following CIA Agent Sarah Grayson (Hilary Swank).
It’s not just the filmmaking that slips down pleasurably; the script is laden with genuinely funny situations throughout and the actors are all given their opportunities to shine. Channing Tatum and Adam Driver make for a solidly engaging central duo and, despite their clearly differing looks, have enough sparks together that we really believe they grew up together as brothers. However, it’s the supporting players who arguably provide the real highlights: Daniel Craig manages an unexpectedly flawless West Virginia accent as Joe, Seth MacFarlane is hilariously obnoxious as an alcoholic douchebag of a racing driver, Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson as a pair of awkward and scatterbrained brothers, and Hilary Swank makes a lot with her little screen time as a twitchily obsessive CIA agent.
It’s a large collection of small pleasures, with just enough grand swagger to fit right in with the tail end of the summer schedule but not enough to lose personality. Welcome back, Mr. Soderbergh.
Runtime: 118 mins
Dir: Steven Soderbergh
Script: Rebecca Blunt
Starring: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Katie Holmes, Seth MacFarlane, Katherine Waterston, Hilary Swank, Riley Keough, Dwight Yoakam, David Denman, Jack Quaid, Brian Gleeson, Farrah Mackenzie
Where is it showing in Edinburgh and Glasgow?
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