Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Premise: A pair of brothers (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) teams up with a safe cracker (Daniel Craig) in a plot to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway during a NASCAR race.
What Works: Logan Lucky is primarily concerned with being fun and the movie is lots of that. No one does a heist movie quite like Steven Soderbergh and the filmmaker knows how to use cinema to direct or deliberately misdirect the audience’s attention as well as use parallel action and creative editing to heighten suspense and enhance the meaning of a scene. Logan Lucky moves along at a clip and it is very funny with a mix of physical gags and witty dialogue. But the standout quality of Logan Lucky is its cast of colorful characters. The movie is led by Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as brothers who are physically handicapped—Tatum’s character was injured playing football and Driver plays a veteran who lost a hand while at war—and even though they don’t look much like one another the two men have a credible brotherly rapport. Riley Keough is cast as their sister and Keough has a way of conveying intelligence and depth in characters we wouldn’t expect it from, in this case a beautician. The highlight of the cast is Daniel Craig. The actor typically plays stoic and cool characters, namely James Bond, and he’s cast against type as a tattooed southern safe cracker. Craig proves himself capable of comedy and he’s very good at it. The movie also includes a small but notable supporting performance from Dwight Yoakam as a prison warden and what could be an incidental and forgettable character is made very funny in Yoakam’s hands. Nearly all of these characters are southern blue collar types and when Hollywood portrays people of this social strata, the humor usually comes at their expense. While some of these people are funny, the moviemakers walk a line between having a laugh with these people and ridiculing them. The brothers played by Channing Tatum and Adam Driver are sharp and the filmmakers maintain the characters’ dignity.
What Doesn’t: Logan Lucky never shakes the feeling that Steven Soderbergh has made this movie before. Soderbergh previously directed the Ocean’s 11 series as well as The Informant! and Side Effects. He specializes in making films about heists and he does it well. Logan Lucky stands up with any of Soderbergh’s other movies—it’s better than either of the Ocean sequels—but there is also no getting around the impression that the filmmaker has done all of this before. Like a lot of movies of this type, Logan Lucky requires a significant suspension of disbelief. The scenario is pretty unbelievable and the movie’s credibility isn’t helped by the many plot holes and the reliance on coincidences. The end of the picture incorporates a twist but it doesn’t make sense and it’s unclear what is happening. The weakest element of Logan Lucky is its final portion in which a FBI agent (Hilary Swank) investigates the robbery. The character is a red herring and she serves no purpose. If the investigators are intended to create some last minute suspense, they don’t do that and it’s distracting and a little frustrating to see an actress of Hilary Swank’s caliber wasted in what amounts to a walk-on role. For that matter, nearly all the women of Logan Lucky are housewives or otherwise marginalized in the action. Even Riley Keough, who is good as an accomplice, is generally kept out of the action. This is disappointing from Soderbergh, who has usually been more equitable in his movies.
Bottom Line: Logan Lucky is an enjoyable comedy that is consistent with Steven Soderbergh’s other heist movies. The story requires an incredible suspension of disbelief but it’s a fun picture that is unlike anything else in the cinema marketplace.
Episode: #663 (September 3, 2017)