Director: Stephen Soderbergh
Cast: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keough, Daniel Craig, Katherine Waterston
Running Time: 118 minutes
Release Date: 25th August
Guess who just got back today? Them wild-eyed boys that’d been away. Movie star Channing Tatum, recently-unretired director Stephen Soderbergh, and his long-time producer/director of Magic Mike XXL, Gregory Jacobs, have reunited to bring us the hillbilly heist caper Logan Lucky, and man, those cats are still crazy.
Tatum stars as Jimmy Logan, fired from his construction job when an old football injury makes him an insurance liability. Having discovered a way into the vault containing the takings from the NASCAR track he had been repairing, he hatches a plan to break in and steal the money. Jimmy recruits his brother Clyde (Driver) and sister Mellie (Keough), along with the incarcerated, eccentric explosives expert Joe Bang (Craig) and his two brothers (Brian Gleeson and Jack Quaid) to pull off the job and break the curse of ‘bad luck’ on the Logan family Clyde purports to exist.
In a film that self-reflexively describes its own plot as ‘Oceans 7-11,’ the film hits every beat required of a heist movie, with varying levels of success. The first two-thirds of the film are well-paced and engaging, with the process of putting the team together and getting to know the cast being hugely enjoyable. An extended sequence set in a prison during the group’s attempt to jailbreak of Joe Bang, is funny and thoughtful, and the small moments of tension prompted during the heist feel just off-balance enough to throw things off.
The key members of the Logan family, and the hilariously named Bang brothers, are subtly and humorously developed, with all involved delivering fantastic performances. Craig’s comic timing is a revelation, while both Tatum and Keogh continue their positive run of involvement with Soderbergh following Magic Mike, Side Effects, Haywire (Tatum) and The Girlfriend Experience (Keogh). Adam Driver, as a one-armed Iraq war veteran-turned-bartender, is charmingly saturnine; while Katie Holmes and Hillary Swank turn up in small, but allowing each actress to shine.
It’s not perfect: a side-plot with Seth McFarlane and Sebastian Stan as NASCAR drivers feels rushed and contrived, with the former actor appearing to be from a different movie altogether. Similarly, while the build-up and execution of the heist flows well, the third act of the film feels somewhat scattershot, and the payoff stretches the suspension of disbelief you should always bring to a movie. The relationship between Jimmy and his pageant-bound daughter could be taken by some as hacky, overly-sentimental; others may track it as the most positive relationship in the film. But as far as entertaining and enjoyable summer movies go, which actually tell a good story, supported by good performances, you could do a whole lot worse, particularly right now, than Logan Lucky.
Though it is light, summer fun, Logan Lucky feels, in every sense of the word, like an essential Soderbergh film. The film nails several of the key themes and aesthetic manoeuvres fans are accustomed to seeing in his work. Fun, rocky montages are gently juxtaposed with quieter scenes, interrogating the larger political context of the film almost invisibly through smaller, personal stories. It’s hard to escape, given recent events in the US, that the central characters of this film are disenfranchised, working-class white men from Virginia looking to reclaim some control over their economically precarious circumstances. Yet, rather than the particularly dark turn our reality has taken, Soderbergh has the Logans and the Bangs target wealthy, faceless corporations – and a character played by Seth MacFarlane – rather than hold any other particular groups of people accountable. It feels like a traditional David vs Goliath battle in that way, which makes their quest sympathetic and relatable.
On the whole, it’s funny, charming and a great comeback film for Soderbergh. Spread the word around – the boys are back and better than ever.