“Logan Lucky” Movie Review


     After a self proclaimed retirement spanning the past four years, director Steven Soderbergh returns to territory of which he is more than familiar with the heist comedy “Logan Lucky”, a sort of cross between his “Ocean’s 11” franchise and quirky comedies like the Coen Brother’s “Raising Arizona”.  An outstanding ensemble that includes Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, and Daniel Craig anchor a cast of characters who each feature the kind of southern drawl comedian Jeff Foxworthy would probably joke about, while also creating memorable and unique personalities you just don't see regularly in the movies, or in life.  The result is a wholly original exercise in subtle comedic timing coupled with a narrative rich in plot twists that will either prove the character’s genius or simply throw the audience for a loop.

     The film’s screenplay is credited officially to Rebecca Blunt, but that name is rumored to be a pseudonym, potentially for Soderbergh’s wife, Jules Asner, who scores big in what would be her screenwriting debut if this were true.  “Logan Lucky” is one of those films that transports most of us to what feels like another world.  The feeling is similar to the first time you viewed “Fargo” and found yourself completely unaware that people in Minnesota and North Dakota really talked that way.  It would seem the Logan brothers,  Jimmy (Channing Tatum) and Clyde (Adam Driver), have a way of communicating with each other that differs from what may be deemed the mainstream, but nonetheless is perfectly acceptable to themselves and those around them.  To view and really soak in “Logan Lucky” can be quite a culture shock, but in a hilarious sort of way.

     The Logan brothers suffer from what many view as a curse within family circles.  Both were injured in the line of duty while serving in the Iraq War with Jimmy incurring a serious leg injury and Clyde losing half of his left arm.  Jimmy has trouble maintaining a job as a result, and Clyde gets by after perfecting his skills as a one armed bartender at a local watering hole.  But after Jimmy finds himself unemployed and facing a lengthy custody battle for his daughter, Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie), when his ex-wife, Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes), threatens to move to another state.  It’s at this point the brothers hatch a plan for the ultimate heist.

     Jimmy’s previous job would have him part of a sink hole repair operation at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.  While on the job, he saw the pneumatic transportation system the Speedway uses to get money from the concession and merchandise stands into a massive vault.  Finding a way to break in is a daunting enough task, but the man they believe they need to help them, Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), happens to currently be incarcerated, posing a problem for their prospective timeline.  The brothers; however, do not see this as an issue and concoct a plan that will allow Joe to break out, assist them with the job, and be back in his cell before anyone notices.  How do they accomplish this?  Well lets just say these guys are smarter than they look.

      The heist is as intricate and complex as anything Danny Ocean and his buddies pulled off, even if the stakes seem a little less given the NASCAR setting and the presence of several bumbling characters.  But what makes the film so enjoyable is the fact it never crosses over into farce territory, as it maintains a very grounded and believable world without ever appearing to go over the top.  Jimmy’s daughter Sadie may be most responsible for that, since their relationship is highlighted throughout and it’s Jimmy’s love for his daughter that essentially drives the story.  Jimmy’s fast driving sister, Mellie (Riley Keough), is also key to the success of the operation, as well as being the character who functions as the dependable rock in the family who always finds a way to get the job done.  Appearances by Seth MacFarlane as an egomaniac race car owner and Dwight Yoakam as a prison Warden who refuses to admit wrongdoing add plenty of comedic moments throughout, though cameos by Katherine Waterston and Hilary Swank don't seem to have their desired impact.

     Soderbergh stuffs every scene with the kind of information and clues he knows the audience will pay attention to, only to throw them off, somehow getting us to key in on what we perceive as being important, only to find out later we missed a subtle hint that proved to be crucial.  There’s plenty of bait and switch.  Mostly by way of several well timed sight gags meant to illicit laughter, but also to give cover to what it is the characters are actually doing. He’s done this many times before, and he’s really good at it.   “Logan Lucky” is a film that requires your undivided attention, but you’ll have no problem obliging since the entire experience is a crowd pleasing hoot.  GRADE: B+