After a brief retirement from feature films and a short stint on TV with The Knick, Steven Soderbergh is back to his old stopping grounds.
Synopsis: West Virginia family man Jimmy Logan teams up with his one-armed brother Clyde and sister Mellie to steal money from the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. Jimmy also recruits demolition expert Joe Bang to help them break into the track’s underground system. Complications arise when a mix-up forces the crew to pull off the heist during a popular NASCAR race while also trying to dodge a relentless FBI agent. (Bleecker Street)
Starring: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and Daniel Craig
Writer: Rebecca Blunt
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Rating: PG (Canada)/PG-13 (USA)
Running Time: 119 minutes
For showtimes and more, check out Logan Lucky on movietimes.com.
Steven Soderbergh is most well-known for the Ocean’s Trilogy, Traffic and most recently Magic Mike, with Ocean’s 11 being his most mainstream film. Logan Lucky pushes more into Soderbergh’s art-house style roots and it certainly shows. The film is being deemed ‘Ocean’s 7/11’, but let’s not give it that much credit just yet.
The acting in this film is outstanding with the Daniel Craig’s out of character casting being at the forefront. He plays an incarcerated thief and pyromaniac named Joe Bang who goes against everything we expect from the current 007. It’s delightfully refreshing as Craig seems to enjoy playing this over-the-top hillbilly heist puller. Aside from his performance the relationship between Tatum and Driver, as Jimmy and Clyde Logan respectively, works well as they make for convincing brothers.
As always, the cinematography and direction by Soderbergh is outstanding. Every shot tells its own story, and the angles and framing used are quirky enough for this caper comedy.
However, there is a lot of good and bad when it comes to the script. While the characters have glimpses of being interesting, there isn’t much development for them with the most compelling being Daniel Craig’s Joe Bang. While some characters aren’t developed at all there are others who seem completely unnecessary or overused, particularly Seth MacFarlane and Hillary Swank, who just come out of nowhere and do nothing to extend the actual story other than to push the already long run-time. There also aren’t a huge amount of laughs, losing the witty highbrow banter that made the Ocean’s Trilogy so entertaining. It feels as if this film expects everyone watching to be accustomed to southern culture.
But, the biggest issue is that there are no real stakes to the situation at hand which makes the heist a lot less thrilling. No character has any time-based life-or-death consequences if they don’t get the money from this job which makes you just not really care if they will pull it off or not. On top of that the narrative drags tremendously throughout with scenes that slow everything down only to become part of an important payoff afterwards. As much as those scenes are needed for setup, they are done in a way which just meanders along. Even the big a-ha! moment ends up being more convoluted rather than surprising.
It’s a bit perplexing to think that Channing Tatum’s character, who is an ex-high school quarterback turned construction worker with no tremendously above-average life skills, could pull off this heist. Everything feels so fantasized in this film to the point that it gets a bit hard to follow and even harder to invest in.
Overall, this was an okay caper comedy. While the actors seem to have fun and Soderbergh brings his unique filmmaking style, the story just feels so unrealistic and unrelatable to a general audience (it’s a little hard to relate to a southern culture revolving around beauty pageants and NASCAR). This film is unlucky to be overshadowed by such a great caper trilogy that came before it.
Here’s our video review:
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