Review: Logan Lucky

Logan Lucky
8 10

PLOT: An unemployed family man (Channing Tatum) living in West Tennessee recruits his brother (Adam Driver) and sister (Riley Keough) to help him rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway during a major NASCAR race.

REVIEW: LOGAN LUCKY is a comfortably familiar return behind the camera for director Steven Soderbergh. His first film since HBO’s BEHIND THE CANDELEBRA, and his first proper theatrical release since SIDE EFFECTS, it marks his return from self-imposed retirement, although whether or not he was ever really gone is up for debate, as in the interim he directed two seasons worth of “The Knick” on Cinemax.

Soderbergh has always struck me as two directors in one, the “serious” Soderbergh of TRAFFIC, CONTAGION and “The Knick” and the “fun” Soderbergh of OCEAN’S ELEVEN and HAYWIRE. You can usually tell which is which by the composer he works with, as Cliff Martinez tends to score the heavier movies, while David Holmes is his go-to guy for the lighter ones. LOGAN LUCKY is the fun Soderbergh, with this very much a working class version of OCEAN’S ELEVEN (albeit not quite “Ocean’s 7-11” as one character dubs the heist).

Experimental in that it’s been financed and released in a way that puts that machinery in the hands of the talent, LOGAN LUCKY takes no chances as far as entertainment value goes. It’s fast-paced and breezy fun, beautifully assembled by a director who’s lost none of his talent. It feels very much like his tribute to “good ol’boy” Burt Reynolds-movies of the late-seventies/early-eighties, albeit a tad more sophisticated.

One thing worth mentioning is that the trailers are selling the Logan brothers as stupid. That’s not how they’re portrayed in the movie. They’re unlucky at times, but they’re also quite ingenious, and neither is ever made the object of ridicule. They’re just normal, working-class fellas, with Tatum, who’s never better than when he’s with Soderbergh, a likable lead. Neither pretends to have any more compelling a reason to rob the speedway than that they can, thanks to some throwaway knowledge Tatum absorbed on his job that people thought he’d be too dumb to do anything with. Wrong.

Carrying a gut and looking like more of a regular guy than he does in his more chiseled state, Tatum is actually the perfect 21st century surrogate for a guy like Reynolds, in that he’s charming in a natural way, doesn’t pander to or mock the kind of character he’s playing, and seems to be having a whale of a time throughout. Adam Driver and Riley Keough as his equals as his brother and sister, with Driver sidelined for a long-stretch out of necessity, but he fits into the Soderbergh vibe effortlessly, and I could see him become a regular like Tatum has. Keough’s a veteran of the Soderbergh canon, having led a show he produced, “The Girlfriend Experience” and aces the laid-back, fun-movie vibe.

As good as they are, leave it to Daniel Craig to come along and steal the movie out from under them as the safe-cracker - Joe Bang - a cult hero in the making. Incarcerated, the brothers have to some how break him out for a few hours, and Craig looks like he’s relishing the radical departure from 007 (I wish the Broccoli’s would hire Bond super-fan Soderbergh to direct an installment). Hilary Swank, Seth MacFarlane, Katherine Waterston (and others) all pop up here and there and are also impeccably cast, with not a misstep among them. Everyone seems to be having a damn good time, although, unlike the OCEAN’S movies, not too good a time.

All in all, it adds up to an unpredictable (even for a heist movie) two hour romp at the theaters. Soderbergh probably has a lot of good-to-great movies left in him, and I, for one, am glad he’s back. He’s a talent we really can’t do without and he can’t help but elevate any genre he dabbles in. This is a good example of a formula movie done just right.

Source: JoBlo.com



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