You could argue that Steven Soderbergh is the architect of the modern heist film. Look no further than his hit movie “Ocean’s Eleven”. In that 2001 remake Soderbergh pretty much wrote his own set of rules for a heist flick and would follow them through two sequels. Now years later he returns with “Logan Lucky”, a working class version of the “Ocean’s” formula, less focused on being cool and more on straight southern-fried humor.
Channing Tatum (an actor I have steadily warmed up to) plays Jimmy Logan, a down-on-his-luck blue collar construction worker who loses his job at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Soon after, Jimmy learns that his ex-wife Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes) and her slug of a husband Moody (played with just the right amount of macho slime by David Denman) plan to move to Lynchburg making it harder for Jimmy to see his daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie).
Tatum’s performance is funny in a number of ways. One is in how he reacts to all of his bad luck (referenced several times in the film as the ‘Logan Hex’). He takes everything in stride, never getting worked up. But he doesn’t sit around and take it. You could say he’s a man of action. So needing money in order to stay closer to Sadie, Jimmy concocts an elaborate plan to rob the speedway. But he’s going to need a crew.
First he recruits his brother Clyde (Adam Driver), an Iraq war veteran and bartender with a prosthetic hand, and his hairdresser sister Mellie (Riley Keough). Needing someone experienced with vaults they contact the currently in-car-cer-ated Joe Bang. He’s played by Daniel Craig channeling something far different than his dapper James Bond persona. Joe’s two numbskull brothers (Brian Gleeson and Jack Quaid) join in to fill out the wacky team.
Several other names round off the cast – Sebastian Stan, Dwight Yoakam, Katherine Waterston. And then there are a couple who don’t quite fit. Seth MacFarlane plays a scumbag NASCAR team owner with a bad British accent and an even worse wig. Not sure what he’s going for but it doesn’t work. And then there is Hillary Swank as a not so hot on the trail FBI agent. Swank’s performance is hard to interpret and feels out of tune with the rest of the film. Thankfully both are smaller roles and are easy to look past, but they do stand out.
This zany bunch of country folk is a far cry from Danny Ocean’s good-looking and snazzy dressed band of burglars. That’s part of the fun. In many ways Soderbergh is spoofing his own “Ocean’s” trilogy and has a lot of fun doing it. You can’t help but notice similarities in the two story structures, but “Logan Lucky” adds its own unique twist and is by far the broader comedy.
Out of the blue newcomer Rebecca Blunt is credited with the screenplay but there is a catch. Many say Rebecca Blunt doesn’t exist. No one can seem to find her. Some believe it’s a pseudonym for Soderbergh himself. Others have speculated that Soderbergh’s wife, former E! personality Jules Asner, is the real screenwriter. This weird little mystery surrounding Rebecca Blunt seems only fitting for such weird little movie. Whoever wrote it deserves some attention for dishing out a fun madcap caper with big personalities and even bigger laughs. Toss in that Soderbergh flavor and an all-in cast and you have one of last year’s funniest movies.
VERDICT – 4 STARS
I’m really glad you enjoyed this one! Shamefully I haven’t seen any of the Ocean’s movies, but I’m going to right that wrong soon.
I thought this thing was an absolute hoot! I’ve seen it twice now and find so much about it funny. Watched it with my family and we laughed and laughed. I actually find this to be better than the Oceans movies but they are still enjoyable.
I missed this in the theaters as I really wanted to see this as I’m a fan of Soderbergh but I’m relieved to know that there’s a DVD copy at my local library so I can check it out when it’s available.
Absolutely give it a whirl. It’s so goofy and I mean that in the best way. It definitely has that Soderbergh touch.
This was a really fun movie. Pretty light fare, but sometimes that is just what the doctor ordered. Loved Daniel Craig in this in particular. “In-car-cer-ated.” haha!
Craig was just soooo goofy! Loved him too. I’m with ya. This thing struck just the right chord. I’ve seen it twice and it stood up both times.
I just couldn’t get into this movie as much. I mean i love the cast and the premise was amusing, but it was too much like Ocean’s 11 and the ending was a bit rushed
Really. Bummer man. But it does jump all in with its off-beat southern humor. I can see it not working for everyone.
Yes! A working class “Ocean’s” flick is exactly what it is, and a bit of a parody of them, too. I also really enjoyed this one. Tatum won me over quite a while ago, but it was Adam Driver who surprised me most. I thought he was awesome in this.
Driver is a hoot in this thing. His dry deadpan delivery had me cracking up over and over again. “You sucked my arm off.” My family still laughs at that!
Not so high on this one but far from hate. On another note, the Logan Lucky theme “Original Score Medley” is one of the best things I heard in cinema all last year. So funky, so quirky, I can listen to that on repeat for hours.
Really? I’m curious, what didn’t work for you?
Most of the emotional components didn’t get at my heartstrings, stakes didn’t feel that high, and Swank and especially McFarlane were big misses.
But still, I don’t hate! I
I gotta admit, the daddy/daughter dynamic worked on me. Totally agree on Swank and McFarlane!
Wow that’s a cool tidbit about the writer, I had no idea! I thought the film was delightful, it managed to climb into my top 10 of 2017. It was so entertaining and charming and the characters were effortlessly likable
Isn’t that writer thing cool? Somehow that wacky story fits a movie like this. I remember you liking it too. Glad to hear that. It’s so much fun.