Logan Lucky Review

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West Virginia miner Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) loses his job; desperate, he enlists his brother Clyde (Adam Driver) to plan a robbery on the Coca-Cola 600, one of the biggest NASCAR races of the year.

★★★★

Did anybody really believe Steven Soderbergh was retired? Certainly not people who watched The Knick, which was more ‘cinematic’ than most theatrically released films. And now the pioneer of ’90s indie makes a welcome return to theatres with this well-acted, slickly directed, if somewhat familiar redneck heist flick — and after last year’s dull Masterminds, Lord knows we needed a good one.

The pioneer of ’90s indie makes a welcome return to theatres.

Channing Tatum is on loveable beefcake duty once again, this time as a West Virginia miner with a surprisingly convincing accent. As things go in these films, once laid off for the proverbial pre-existing condition, he promptly decides to rob the local NASCAR track’s biggest day of the year. He enlists the usual band of misfits, including his brother played, in a piece of casting that stretches familial-likeness credulity, by Adam Driver. Nevertheless, the two have cracking chemistry, and Driver’s slow-talking but sharp-witted barman, who lost an arm in Iraq, would be Logan Lucky’s standout performance, were it not for the presence of one Daniel Craig.

Playing a boiled egg-loving con with bleached-blond hair and lashings of explosives expertise, those blue eyes of his — so cold as Bond — are here bulging with lunacy. He’s hilarious and totally convincing as someone far from the officer-class stylings of his day job; it’s a pleasure to be reminded of what a good character actor Craig can be. Throw in some would-be computer hackers and the team is complete. Now, what about the plan?

Heist films are all about the process, so it would be a crime to give too much away, suffice to say that Soderbergh and writer Rebecca Blunt are careful to dole out enough info to make sure we can follow what’s going on, but are equally careful to keep a few surprises to drop along the way.

If this is all sounding a little Out Of Sight getting it on with the Ocean’s trilogy and their baby growing up in Trump country, that’s because it is. There’s an unavoidable feeling that Soderbergh is playing the hits here — although it’s odd how much a character-driven crime flick is now such a rarity it feels like an exercise in turn-of-the-millennium retro.

More irritatingly, as with a lot of Soderbergh (Side Effects, The Good German), there’s the lingering suspicion we’re another draft or so away from something special, but his frenetic working pace didn’t allow for it. Seth MacFarlane certainly wasn’t given enough time to perfect his ‘English’ accent. But a late-entering Hilary Swank as an FBI agent (with Blue Ruin’s Macon Blair on sidekick duty) goes nowhere, as does an extended cameo from Katherine Waterston, who shows up to make a sledgehammer point about the US healthcare system only to disappear once she’s done so. And while not everything has to have a bow on it, Logan Lucky doesn’t quite have the impactful ending the build-up deserves. But it’s such an enjoyable ride to get there, that can be forgiven.

Even if it needed one last push to make it truly exceptional, there’s a lot to enjoy here. And Soderbergh once again attracts a cast it’s a pleasure to spend time with.