| Two brothers attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina.
Seeing Dwight Yoakam debating the status of George R. R. Martin’s latest A Song of Ice and Fire novel with a bunch of rioting prison inmates who have Martin’s endlessly postponed book high among their list of hostage demands; Such is the absurdity of Soderberg’s latest film, a film which brings the director back to his roots of crime comedy capers following in the footsteps of films like Out of Sight and the aforementioned Ocean’s Eleven but with an entirely new and colorful cast of characters.
Soderbergh has taken us to many places; casinos, an American factory town, strip clubs and foreign countries. Next up, a big fat slice of Southern, hillbilly America that is crackling with dry humor and slightly Coen-esque blue-collar oddballs. This is a film that doesn’t take itself seriously in the best possible way. The actors all buy into it too, with Tatum and Craig particularly standing out in different types of characters than what we are used to seeing them in. Daniel Craig in a role that I don’t think anyone was anticipating from the man best known for breathing new life to the James Bond franchise. It turns out he’s a pretty damn good comedic actor as well even though up until now he’s only had brief flings with the comedy genre. It could be argued that Logan Lucky was his first full-fledged comedy and he owns every minute of it.
The central hurdle of any heist movie is that they’re always going to stretch the truth to add the required thrills. Is it to the point where you can still buy into the plot? Even though a lot of the characters are as dumb as a bag of rocks, I was still able to go along with this movie. Are certain points unrealistic? Definitely. Do they always do an effective job explaining it? No, the movie is deliberately opaque even for this genre. But it never got to the point that I was angry with it or ready to check out. So while I can’t promise complete realism, as long as you’re willing to go along with this, I don’t think you’ll have a problem with the logical leaps.
However, whenever the story deviates from the heist, the film’s pacing loses steam. The inclusion of Seth McFarlane as a rival and his connection to a racer in the race during the heist just felt like padding-and his character along with Sebastian Stan as his team’s racer so one note that it felt like part of a different film altogether. The investigation of the crime felt like an afterthought and therefore there isn’t a lot of tension that anyone will be caught and Hillary Swank so underutilized. The story tries to engineer moments of tension in the heist, but they always feel so empty that those moments don’t affect the story enough.
It’s nice to have Soderbergh back again, although I’m not certain this is the Soderbergh I’ve been missing. Don’t get me wrong: Logan Lucky is an entertaining romp, a curious mix of Coen Brothers’-style hicksploitation quirk and Soderbergh’s twisty, cooler-than-cool presentation, a film whose ultimate survival owes entirely to the Daniel Craig’s exuberantly cantankerous mad bomber Joe Bang. But those of us hoping for a quick return to Out of Sight-level precision are in for a bit of a letdown; Logan Lucky falls closer to Ocean’s Twelve than Ocean’s Eleven (hence the Oceans 7/11 bit), scattershot and oddly paced, more of an interesting diversion than an auteur regaining his form.
‘Logan Lucky’ gets a 7.5/10
*Note: Sorry for being absent for over a month. Needed a break from the blog to concentrate on my screenplays.
Shot on 35's Rating Sheet: 9.5 – 10.0: Excellent! 8.5 – 9.5: Fantastic, but with minor flaws 7.5 – 8.5: Great, but with issues 6.5 – 7.5: Okay, but with major issues 5.5 – 6.5: Had potential, but falls flat hard. 4.5 – 5.5: Disaster!
Follow me on Twitter for more random movie, comics & sports stuff here.
You can also follow my Letterboxd account to see my movie activity here.