Review: Logan Lucky

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Steven Soderbergh can make movies in his sleep. Liberated from the need to make “important” or “prestige” fare, he dives into whatever genre fascinates him at any given time, and leaves his stamp on it. With the latest venture in his versatile career, he takes the crackerjack spirit of his Ocean’s films and injects it into the South. The result is Logan Lucky, a loose and freewheeling ride that may lack tension and stakes to its narrative, but is chocked full of colorful characters.

Natives of West Virginia, the Logans are a hobbled bunch, cursed with a family history of accidents and bad luck. The latest setback has fallen on Jimmy (Channing Tatum), fired from his construction job in Charlotte, North Carolina, on account of a limp that can’t be covered by insurance. He’s a loving father, but his divorcee wife (Katie Holmes), plans to move across state lines, his ability to afford getting to see his daughter dwindles. Fortunately, Jimmy sees an opportunity, in pulling a heist at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the location from where he had just been fired. Familiar with the underground tunnel system that leads to a vault, he enlists the help of his military veteran brother Clyde (Adam Driver), his hairdresser sister Mellie (Riley Keough), and most importantly, imprisoned convict Joe Bang (Daniel Craig). Thus commences an unconventional sceheme that will almost certainly go awry, but may end up rehabilitating the Logans’ reputation.

Where Soderbergh’s Ocean’s films are about professional criminals, the crew of Logan Lucky is a patchwork of personalities. Channing Tatum and Adam Driver make terrific brothers, both nailing West Virginian accents, and providing good foils from each other. Tatum’s easygoing movie star charm butts up against Driver’s more insular focus, and the comedy often comes as much from silences as from punchlines. As Joe Bang, Daniel Craig completely goes against his hard nosed tendencies, opting to play boisterous mischief and shrewd intellect in equal measure. Rounding out the gang are the siblings, with Riley Keough’s Mellie Logan begrudging her brothers’ outlandish plans, a pair of dim witted Bang brothers (Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson) that have Joe’s implicit trust.

For a film that ostensibly carries a wealth of plot intricacies, Logan Lucky is a pretty laid back affair. Indeed, the narrative goes on more than a few twists and turns, from a prison breakout, to the central heist itself, and the eventual involvement of law enforcement, headed by Special Agent Sarah Grayson (Hilary Swank). Yet the film doesn’t seem in any rush to move the plot from one scenario to the next. The approach is a bit of a double edged sword. The stakes to the heist are relatively low, and therefore, there’s no ticking clock and only a few moments of genuine surprise or urgency. While this detracts from some occasionally needed tension, the relaxed tone benefits the ensemble. Soderbergh has always been proficient at executing a good narrative, but digging into characters can be more rewarding. With Soderbergh’s technical fundamentals as assured as ever (he’s both his own cinematographer and editor), perhaps it’s fitting that the rebellious Logan Lucky is reflective of the director himself, free to follow (or ignore) whatever rules he wants.

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~ by romancinema on August 19, 2017.

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