When people give you the elevator pitch for Logan Lucky, they are bound to say something along the lines of “Think Ocean’s Eleven, but with rednecks”. This may sum up Steven Soderbergh‘s return to feature film-making after a bit of a hiatus, but that description really doesn’t do justice to this smartly-written story about a bunch of down-on-their-luck individuals that’s entertaining from start to finish. It’s a story that’s full of Soderbergh’s trademark twists and turns, all the laced with the dry wit prevalent in most of his films.
Rather than the suave and charismatic protagonists that we would expect in a heist film of this nature, we are instead given the Logans, Jimmy (Channing Tatum), Clyde (Adam Driver) and their sister Mellie (Riley Keough); a trio of siblings that are more country bumpkin than criminal mastermind. Spurred by the loss of his construction job and finding out his ex-wife (Katie Holmes) is moving interstate with his daughter, Jimmy , the oldest of the Logans, hatches a plan to rob a NASCAR track that stores its cold harsh cash in a vault deep within its recesses. To do it they need to enlist the help of Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), a seasoned explosives expert who, unfortunately, also happens to be in-car-cer-ated. With Bang, and his brothers Fish (Jack Quaid) and Sam (Brian Gleeson), in tow, the Logans kick off a daring caper that will utilise their utmost hill-billy ingenuity. Oh, and there’s also the matter of a Logan family curse which may or may not exist.
It’s a conceit with just the right amount of goofiness and heart. Tatum fills Jimmy with such salt-of-the-earth earnestness which, even though you know what he is doing is wrong, makes you hope that he get’s away with his plan. Keough instills Mellie with a devil-may-care attitude that makes her the firebrand of the siblings but you get the feeling that she is also one of the smarter ones in the group, manipulating those in her way to get what she wants. Driver’s Clyde is so loyal to his kin that even though he has reservations with what he’s being pulled into, he willingly endures whatever hardship is necessary to help out his family. And Daniel Craig. Wow. With bleach blond hair and the strongest Southern Drawl you’ll ever hear, Bang is as far away from the typical sombre fare that Craig usually portrays, and it’s obvious that he’s having a total blast playing the off-kilter convict. With is comedic timing, I would love to see Craig inhabit more of these types of roles.
Now this is already quite an ensemble cast, but that doesn’t stop the film from throwing in what seems to be an almost revolving door of cameos. With Seth MacFarlane‘s douchey energy drink owning Max Chilblain (who’s British for some reason), Sebastian Stan‘s my-body-is-a-temple NASCAR driving Dayton White, Katherine Waterston‘s endearing girl next-door health professional Sylvia Harrison and a very stern looking Hilary Swank as FBI Special Agent Sarah Grayson, Soderbergh runs the risk of almost being self-indulgent, but with clever writing and the aforementioned actors’ owning every scene that they are in, their short stint actually seems like less of a cameo and more of an expansion of the world that Soderbergh has built. Each of these appearances adds little pockets of good-natured humour in an already humorous movie.
But don’t let the humour make you forget that this is still a heist film with a myriad moving parts that have all have to come together to create something cohesive. At its heart it’s a caper that involves breaking in and out of prisons, home-made explosives, dim-witted side-kicks, prosthetic arms, beauty pageants and bank vaults, and it’s an incredible feat that Soderbergh manages to deliver it all with a tight plot that doesn’t succumb to the usual lapses in logic that beleaguer similar films of this ilk. While some parts maybe confusing or cause you do go “Wait, did I miss something?” it’s an enormously satisfying feeling when everything starts fitting into place and you can start making sense of it all.
I went into Logan Lucky not expecting much and discovered one of the funnier movies of the year. If you want to see an intelligent wholesome comedy featuring one of the best Game of Throne references then Logan Lucky is for you. I give it an 8.5 out of 10.