Logan Lucky is a character-comedy-cum-heist-thriller that shows Steven Soderbergh has still got some of that old fire left in him — and just a whiff of his cerebral stuff too.
He’s described it as “the anti-glam version of an Ocean’s movie” and the film is populated with financially strapped and often desperate people who plan one of those outrageously improbable robberies that only happen in the cinema. We really want to see them get away with it, as they’ve all been screwed over well and truly.
Channing Tatum (one of Soderbergh’s favourites after Haywire, Side Effects and Magic Mike, and a producer here too) is West Virginian Jimmy Logan, a construction worker fired from his job for not stating a pre-existing knee problem. He’s given a hard time by his mean ex-wife Bobbie Jo Chapman (Katie Holmes) and her awful hubby Moody (David Denman) to boot. While feeling peeved and drowning his sorrows at the bar belonging to his brother Clyde (Adam Driver), an ex-serviceman who lost half an arm in Iraq, the two get into a goofy fight with NASCAR star Max Chilblain (Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane hiding behind scraggly hair, a porno mustache and a sort-of-English accent).
This leads to Jimmy’s grand plan to rob the Coca-Cola 600 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina during Memorial Day weekend. For this dangerous operation they recruit Joe Bang, who’s played by no less than Daniel Craig. He’s obviously revelling in the chance to do an anti-007 with blonde hair, a fine hillbilly drawl and an amusing line in leering. The fact that he’s in prison with five months left to serve of his sentence is a bit of an issue, so they turn to Joe’s brothers Fish (Jack Quaid, son of Dennis and Meg Ryan) and Sam (Brian Gleeson, son of Brendan) for help, and there’s added support from Jimmy and Clyde’s looker sister Mellie (Riley Keough).
Taking the time for characterisation and sweet humour, Logan Lucky builds to one of those impossibly complicated heists that only ever happen in movies and rather contradicts the notion that the Logans are stupid or cursed. But no matter, because we like all the people involved so damn much, from Tatum, Driver, Craig and Keough to an Oscar-winner in a surprise role towards the end and just about everyone in between (except Dwight Yoakam as the repellent Warden Burns, but he always excels in acting grotesque).
Complete with a minor controversy in its credits (is the unknown screenwriter Rebecca Blunt a real person or in fact Soderbergh, his missus Jules Asner or someone else under a pseudonym?), there’s been speculation that this workaholic filmmaker might pack it in once again now this outing is complete. Or maybe not? Knowing how indefatigable and unreliable Soderbergh can be, chances are he currently has six films in pre-production and a dozen he’s signed on for as executive producer, having just finished a script under a nom de plume this morning before breakfast.
Rated M. Logan Lucky is in cinemas now