Ocean’s meets hillbilly rock, in the best possible way.
Having spent recent years within the realms of television, director Steven Soderbergh’s loosely termed ‘retirement’ from film is over and, following up on his last film in 2013 – Behind The Candelabra – he is back in familiar territory with heist comedy, Logan Lucky. Looking very much in the same vain as his Ocean’s series, Soderbergh’s latest film packs James Bond, Kylo Ren and Magic Mike into one hilarious concoction, but does it make for an entertaining ride?
Jimmy and Clyde Logan (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) are down on their look and have had just about enough of their economical downfall and pure lack of anything that even resembles luck. With their options limited in turning round their fortunes, the brothers plot an elaborate heist at a North Carolina NASCAR race, but they’re going to need to help. That’s where Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) comes into play; he can help them to plot and carry out the heist but first they must hatch a separate plan to get him out of jail first before they can even think of the NASCAR job.
Back in 2001, Steven Soderbergh’s ensemble remake of Ocean’s Eleven proved that the heist movie was still a success when done properly and now he’s done it again with a riotous affair that provides plentiful laughs and a swift pacing that makes the NASCAR track feel like it’s moving in slow motion. Logan Lucky is essentially Ocean’s Eleven with 100% more West Virginia but certainly doesn’t feel like a cheap knock-off of Soderbergh’s standout film of the 2000s.
Containing the same slick editing and progression in its story, Logan Lucky certainly packs enough parallels with the George Clooney-led caper but in its change of locale and our newfound comfort in the hands of the Logan family we have a whole new story that is instantly engaging and refreshing. Gone is the Hollywood stylisation, instead replaced by a rather run-of-the-mill set of characters stifled by the struggles of everyday life and – in the case of Daniel Craig’s standout Joe Bang – riddled by the concrete walls of incarceration. It’s because of this that Logan Lucky has us truly invested in its individuals carrying out the seemingly impossible heist. Tatum’s Jimmy is a father looking to do best by his daughter, Driver’s war veteran deserves much more following his spells in Iraq, and even the Bang brothers deserve some slack even if they are loveable idiotic. It’s a motley crew unlock any other but they play off one another to create some brilliant comedic moments, of which the funniest involves a prosthetic limb and some hoovering action…
Here we have a film that Soderbergh clearly enjoys negotiating his way around and in his sharp direction we experience a film that maintains a comfortable pace and never feels rushed nor does it drag its heels. Character development is spot-on and in the eventual drill down of the heist itself we get a full sense of just how intricate this operation really is. Admittedly, the slight twists in place throughout the film are rather predictable and the emergence of Hillary Swank’s FBI agent comes a little late in the day, but ultimately the director keeps his film way above water and entertaining to the highest degree.
Trading the glitz, glamour and style of the Ocean’s heists for something much more grounded and stooped in Americana, Logan Lucky provides one of the nicest surprises of 2017, proving to be a wholly entertaining and engaging encounter worthy of multiple plaudits. Tatum and Driver keep the driver’s seat warm for Daniel Craig to drift his way to MVP status in a role that nicely sets him up for the much more serious venture of returning to Bond’s tuxedo. Soderbergh is back in the map and here’s hoping that semi-retirement is now fully forgotten and the director is back where he belongs.