Review – Logan Lucky

The following is a review from Patrick Wilson, host of the Popcorn Muncher Podcast and a regular guest contributor to The Popcorn Muncher.

Poster for 2017 heist comedy Logan Lucky

Genre: Comedy
Certificate: 12
UK Release Date: 25th August 2017
Runtime: 119 minutes
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Rebecca Blunt
Starring: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keough, Daniel Craig, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Seth MacFarlane, Katherine Waterston, Sebastian Stan
Synopsis: A set of West Virginia siblings plagued by rotten luck join forces with an imprisoned explosives expert to mount an ambitious heist at a major NASCAR event.

 

 

Retirement is overrated for Steven Soderbergh, it seems. Logan Lucky sees the return of the Ocean’s Eleven director to the heist genre. This time, he’s ditching the glitz and the glamour for the unique setting of Red State America. Now most wouldn’t associate elegant, complex heists with rednecks but that’s actually part of what makes this unusual and intriguing movie more nuanced than it first appears.

Logan Lucky stars Channing Tatum as Jimmy Logan. He’s a construction worker who is fired from his job at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina due to not documenting the leg injury that ended his promising football career. He teams up with his one-armed war veteran brother Clyde (Adam Driver), his sister Mellie (Riley Keough) and demolitions expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) – who also brings some family along – to rob the speedway and make their fortune.

What’s refreshing about Logan Lucky is that it refuses to look down on its characters. It’s very easy in the climate of a post-Trump America to look down on the blue collar inhabitants of areas like West Virginia, but the movie refuses to take the bait and treats its characters with real respect for their hobbies and culture. Soderbergh spent his adolescence in Louisiana and it shows in the film. Even moments that would be saccharine and sickly in other movies, like Jimmy seeing his daughter perform at a beauty pageant, are treated with genuine sincerity.

Logan Lucky is, in many ways, a throwback to films like Smokey and the Bandit and is having as much fun as those movies did in their day. The heist itself follows a lot of the beats you’d expect, with a plan that doesn’t quite go as intended and a lot of improvisation required to get the job done. It’s really fun watching the characters bumble their way through the scheme and, of course, coming out smelling of roses by the end.

 

 

The characters really are what makes the film fun. Tatum and Driver have a fun chemistry as forsaken brothers dealing with a family bad luck streak, Brian Gleeson and Jack Quaid are fun as the dim-witted brothers of Joe Bang and Katie Holmes, Katherine Waterston and Riley Keough have fun turns as different women from the varying walks of Jimmy’s life. However, it really is Daniel Craig that steals the show. His comedic timing is really good and he falls into the character so deeply it’s hard to even remember that we’re watching James Bond with blonde hair and a deep Southern accent making explosives out of gummy bears.

There’s some nuance to the plot too that I wish had a bit more development. The characters in Logan Lucky essentially get out of many jams due to people just not thinking they’re capable of such a clever act of thievery. Guards turn a blind eye to let the hicks get back to their NASCAR watching and beer-swilling, while eyewitnesses are barely taken seriously in the investigation. It’s an indictment of assumptions that certain segments of American culture and places are somehow inferior and presents the idea that these are just people like you and me. These are not just a bunch of Trump-loving racists, but real people with ambitions and needs and hopes and dreams.

Unfortunately, while this narrative wrinkle is there, it’s a little too subtle to the point I think a lot of the audience will overlook this aspect. Overall, the movie never is the belly-acher full of laughs that it wants to be. It’s a little stretched near the end, with an extended epilogue that could be seen as sequel-baiting and some characters don’t get enough time to really develop, particularly in female roles. On top of this, the bad luck streak which is core to the motivations of the Logans is barrelled off early on and is left half-baked.

 

Pop or Poop?

Rating: Pop!

Logan Lucky is a fun ride, but there’s absolutely nothing ground-breaking about it. It’s a really fun return to the heist genre for Soderbergh and features a stand-out performance by Daniel Craig, shedding the shackles of Bond’s tuxedo. This may not be the most ambitious movie of the year, but it’s certainly one of the most fun to spend your evening with.

 

Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

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