Logan Lucky (2017)

  • Time: 119 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Crime | Drama
  • Director: Steven Soderbergh
  • Cast: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Seth MacFarlane


Two brothers attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina.


  • Remember when a great actress gave a bad performance? I do. It was in 2013’s Elysium with Jodie Foster projecting acting 101 as a humanoid, secretary of defense. In Logan Lucky (my latest review), Hilary Swank does the same thing. The multiple Oscar winner delivers her lines in a robotic manner playing Special Agent Sarah Grayson. Now was her screen time in “Lucky’s” last twenty minutes completely necessary? I’m thinking no.

    Anyway, Logan Lucky’s story involves two brothers (played by Channing Tatum as Jimmy Logan and Adam Driver as Clyde Logan) attempting to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Tatum’s character has a limp in his leg and Driver’s character has one arm. They are almost broke, they are down on their luck, and they really need the money. Tatum and Driver on a quest to secure many garbage bags full of dough, are surrounding by a host of troupers. You have an unrecognizable Daniel Craig (safecracker), an unrecognizable Seth McFarlane (British businessman), an underdeveloped Katherine Waterson (love interest), and a goofy Dwight Yoakam (prison Warden). Everyone sort of fades in and out of “Lucky” making it the equivalent of a holed, cinematic blueprint.

    Steven Soderbergh is the director of Logan Lucky and well, he can still do pretty much anything. His Out of Sight is different than his Solaris. His Traffic is dissimilar from his Full Frontal. Finally, his Erin Brockovich is much more disparate from his 1999 picture, The Limey.

    On a different note, Steven is also a director who hasn’t made a film in four and a half years. Supposedly, Side Effects was gonna be his swan song. Now in present day, he comes back with “Lucky” which for all things southern, is a drawled crime caper. Yeah it all feels too little, too late.

    Punch-drunk on the success of his Ocean’s Trilogy, Soderbergh shoots “Lucky” in the vein of his Magic Mike. You can spot similar degrees of sliding camera-work and relaxed story-boarding. He then projects Logan Lucky as an Ocean’s Eleven for the hick nation. Jotting between the settings of North Carolina and West Virginia, “Lucky” is like a less complex and certainly less drawn out version of “Eleven”.

    Logan Lucky’s only hook mind you, is that it trades George Clooney and Brad Pitt for the middle class or should I say, the rural working class. You get to see (and hear) toilet seat horseshoes, John Denver tunes, dudes bobbing for pig’s feet, and decorated cockroaches. At the same time, you leave “Lucky” wondering why it was even made or better yet, why Steven Soderbergh came out of retirement to make it. Heck, what was the point of it all really?

    Now I’m not saying Logan Lucky is a bad film because while watching it, I realized that Soderbergh hasn’t lost his touch. His direction is streamlined and assured. Added to that, his actors for the most part, deliver and he keeps the proceedings moving with a nifty, breezy soundtrack (courtesy of mainstay David Holmes). In the end though, it just feels like his “Lucky” is a design for a flick as opposed to an actual feature. I suppose that’s why things are left open for a Logan Lucky sequel. Based on “Lucky’s” mediocre, opening weekend at the box office ($8 million), I just don’t think that’s gonna happen. My rating: 2 and a half stars.

    Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

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  • Logan Lucky here means no luck at all. Well, maybe the odd but brief illusion of good luck.
    The redneck West Virginia family has a history of failure and disaster. But when the two Logan brothers, their sister Mellie and their con co-conspirators pull off a major heist, their luck seems to have changed. The Credence Clearwater song “(I Ain’t No) Fortunate Son” expresses their upbeat energy but foreshadows their doom.
    Their success promises to be short-lived. The one-armed bartender Clyde seems about to be seduced by the pretty, dogged FBI officer Sarah Grayson who won’t take “Case Closed” as an answer. Clyde (hangdog Adam Driver) is too nice, too vulnerable, too doomed, to resist her.
    Director Steven Soderbergh treats his white trash subject society with respect. The convict Joe Bang (the explosives expert, of course) has two standard issue moronic hillbilly brothers, but Joe himself is a brilliant intuitive talent with a solid foundation in science and an impressive strength of character. Ironically, Daniel Craig gets an “And introducing” credit at the end — for this is an all-new appearance for the reigning James Bond.
    These hillbillies include heroes. The brothers’ patriotism cost them an arm and a leg. Clyde lost his arm in one of his two army stints in Iraq. The limp Jimmy incurred in service costs him his digging job at the racetrack. His “preexistent condition” is “a liability issue.” That phrase explicitly places this comic heist in the context of the current American political debate.
    That is, this film gives face and voice to the disadvantaged, frustrated, have-not and ignored society that rose up and voted for Trump. The meticulously planned and executed robbery, which seems like their miraculous stroke of luck, stands in for their happy election result. But their relief is temporary, as the institutional threat at the end suggests. Their triumph is set to prove pyrrhic.
    Jimmy’s decision to return the bulk of their unlawful score establishes this class as principled, wanting what’s their due and to meet their need and no more. Nor for them the oily smugness of the racetrack management which is satisfied with the insurance payment they scored on drummed-up estimates. That victim proves more corrupt and greedy than the robbers. He evokes Trump’s career of personally profitable bankruptcies.
    Our heroes have modest expectations of success. Mellie is a hairdresser. Jimmy’s ex-wife moves interstate so hubby can set up a new car dealership. Her young daughter wins the talent pageant by dropping the Beyonce umbrella song she planned and rewarding her dad with his favourite song, that paean to West Virginia, “(Take me home) Country Roads.” Her cracking little voice spurs the crowd to sing along. This is American community, cheesy but real.
    Our heroes’ success requires the brothers to enlist another set of brothers, Joe Bang’s. He also deploys another class of alienated and disadvantaged, the black convicts. Their riot succeeds because the vain warden (Dwight Yoakum) refuses to admit there can be a riot or a fire in his prison. The black force is abetted by the white vanity.
    The heist site is pure Americana — a speedway during a big Nascar race. There’s the moving LeAnn Grimes anthem, unfurled field-sized flags, the showy jets above. And mainly, underneath the competition and working class ambitions and diversion a network of pipes channels all the incoming flood of money into a vault, which for once the have-nots — our gang — empties. That’s a concise summary of America: a flashy patriotism covers the siphoning of all the poor folks’ money to the rich.
    One can see how this script lured Soderburgh out of his retirement from filmmaking. The plot is a sharp piece of clockwork, including the device of breaking two convicts out of jail for the heist and returning them unnoticed after. The characters are colourful, touching, funny and engaging. The specifics of the heist with its protagonists’ rise and fall are an irresistible analogue to Trump’s failure to “drain the swamp.” Left to themselves these characters manage to overcome the social and economic disadvantages laid on them. But in the end the system brings them down. In America the underclass cannot win, even when they briefly seem to. Crime doesn’t pay — except for the bosses.
    This film’s warmth and humanity demonstrate that the privileged elite (e.g., a mainstream film director) and the yappy liberals in his audience can after all acknowledge the needs of the disadvantaged, the ill-represented, can respect their difference and end up rooting for them. They’re at least as American as the fat cats who exploit them. But as Trump reduces his presidency to self-dealing and self-service, these poor souls who invested their faith in him can’t win. They’re Logan lucky. Low men on the totem pole.

  • (RATING: ☆☆☆☆ out of 5)

    GRADE: B


    IN BRIEF: A good heist film with a nice sense of hee-haw humor.
    SYNOPSIS: A heist film comedy…country style.

    RUNNING TIME: 1 hr., 59 mins.

    JIM’S REVIEW: A redneck comedy about a heist gone wrong, Logan Lucky is damn lucky to have an expert director at the helm and a fine cast that makes this escapist fare work. The film follows the genre’s formula pretty closely, but Steven Soderbergh injects the film with some comic gusto that is mostly on target and casts his film with actors willing to play the fool.

    Now Steven Soderbergh is no stranger to this crime drama genre, having directed the Ocean 11 films. Back from a short retirement, he has made a movie that celebrates all of the hallmark elements of crime and absurdity. No, it doesn’t come anyway near his master works like Traffic, Michael Clayton, or the underrated Contagion. But it doesn’t try to reach that zenith. This is a highly entertaining caper movie with enough droll wit and irony in large helpings. One can hark back to an earlier time when the good ole boy comedies of the 80’s variety frequented the movie houses, that country fried action flick that made Burt Reynolds a bundle of money.

    Getting that big bundle of money is also the main goal in Logan Lucky, by any available means, mostly illegally, in this scenario. Life has not gone particularly smooth for Logan Brothers. Not very smart and wth a run of bad luck in their miserable lives, these white trash siblings are thought to be cursed. Jimmy (a wonderfully appealing Channing Tatum) is divorced and recently laid-off. Clyde (an amusing Adam Driver), a war veteran with a prosthetic hand, runs a seedy bar. After a chance encounter, Jimmy hatches an elaborate scheme to rob a raceway of its NASCAR loot. They assemble a motley crew of misfits and low lifes to set their plan into action.

    Everything is slightly askew in this story, from the dopey antics of its colorful characters and their over-the-top Southern accents to the dense plotting that depends solely on happenstance. The narrative defies logic. Mr. Tatum’s character is pure country rube, yet he becomes a criminal mastermind who can easily work out any kinks in this elaborate scheme of riches. That said, the storytelling keeps one’s involvement throughout the film, making Lucky Logan complete fun.

    Credit the good screenplay by Rebecca Blunt and an adroit cast. The heist itself, with its clever twists, is always compelling. The aforementioned Mr. Tatum and Mr. Driver make a great tag team. Solid supporting turns are given by an ensemble that includes Katie Holmes, Riley Keough, and Dwight Yoakam. Also making memorable cameo appearances are Hilary Swank, Seth MacFarlane, and Katherine Waterston. Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson provide the wonderful corn-pone humor. However, the most enjoyable award goes to Daniel Craig as Joe Bang, a safecracker and an unsafe cracker with a penchant for risky behavior. He turns in a delightful comic performance just this side of caricature.

    The talented Mr, Soderburgh directed, photographed, and edited this caper film with such effortless skill. He captures that red state mentality and unabashed patriotism with his subtle images while focusing on the complex crime caper and its quirky characters. In Logan Lucky, all of the characters’ flaws and foibles are charming Southern comfort. So grab a beer! Let’s hear it for the boys! Yee-haw!

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  • I have complained before about how the advertising can make something look like what it’s not. I get sucked in all the time. This one caught me when I saw on the giant cardboard displays they put in the hallways of the multiplexes that Daniel Craig was listed “Introducing Daniel Craig” as if this was his first movie. It fit right in with the movie. I was a little disappointed because it wasn’t as funny as it had been advertised but that’s a small quibble because it certainly was funny.
    Rebecca Blunt in the screenwriter and she lays it all out for everyone to see, sort of. She has constructed relationships between the male characters that have many layers and then placed the characters in lower income positions. This story would never have worked with wealthy characters. Director Steven Soderbergh has allowed the pace to slow sometimes but not enough to make me stop paying attention. Between Blunt and Soderbergh the characters are kept in great juxtapositions that serve the story and the humor. Not allowing anyone to wink at the camera to let the audience in on the joke is what, in the end, really sets up this movie.
    Channing Tatum plays Jimmy Logan as a man with dreams. They’re not your ordinary dreams but robbing a speedway, at the very least, can’t be called a small dream. Jimmy sees how it’s all going to happen and when others try to step on his dream he keeps going and the rest have to follow. Adam Driver is perfect for this character, Clyde Logan, Jimmy’s brother, and just to make sure his character is missing his left hand. You can’t help but see these two sad sacks as what they are, not quite a failure but pretty close.
    Katie Holmes plays Bobbie Jo, Jimmy’s ex-wife and mother of his child. She is also the perfect alibi. Riley Keough plays Mellie Logan, Jimmy and Clyde’s sister. Neither of these two characters are written with much depth and with a female screenwriter I expect more. Both Holms and Riley give a much more rounded performance than the script would seem willing for them to have.
    Seth MacFarlane, Jack Quaid, Hilary Swank, and Dwight Yoakam aren’t in cameos, those go to Jeff Gordon and LeAnn Rimes, but they turn in good performances.
    I give Logan Lucky a 4 ½ artificial hands out of 5. It’s not a laugh riot but it is very funny and worth the time spent in the movie theater.

  • “Introducing Daniel Craig” went the credits for Logan Lucky’s trailers. The billing may be cheeky but truthful. Even for those familiar with Craig’s pre-Bond career as a well-regarded dramatic actor in films such as Love is the Devil, The Road to Perdition, Sylvia, The Mother, and Enduring Love, his turn as the “in-car-ce-ra-ted” explosives expert Joe Bang will be an eye-opener. Sporting tattoos and a platinum buzz-cut, he’s a loosey-goosey, good-time charmer with flashes of savagery, hilarity and poignancy.

    Craig’s terrific performance aside, Logan Lucky also heralds the return of Steven Soderbergh to the director’s chair after a four-year absence from feature filmmaking. Like Ocean’s 11, Logan Lucky is a heist film though its tone is more southern fried than Sixties cool. Its Danny Ocean is Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum), a star quarterback and homecoming king in his heyday now working as a blue-collar labourer. He’s not having a good day – not only did he get fired from his job as a construction worker at the Charlotte Motor Speedway due to liability issues because of his injured leg, he finds out from his ex-wife Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes) that she and her car dealer husband are moving to Lynchburg, which means he has to cross state lines just to spend even less time with his beloved daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie), who is in the midst of preparing for a pageant.

    So Jimmy formulates a plan to rob the Speedway during the Coca-Cola 600 race on Memorial Day weekend. After all, he knows how they move the money via the pneumatic tube system from his time working on the site. All he needs is some help to pull it off. Enter younger brother Clyde (Adam Driver), who lost his arm during his last tour in Iraq and is now tending bar at the Duck Tape. He’s not so keen on having to once again follow big brother’s plans, which soon involve getting Clyde in prison for 90 days, breaking Joe Bang out of that same prison for the day of the robbery, and enlisting Bang’s Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum brothers (Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson) to help collect and transport the cash. The Logans’ hairdresser sister Mellie (Riley Keough) is also on hand to be the getaway driver.

    Caper films come with a fairly foolproof formula. There will always be some amount of amusement to be had watching the clash of personalities, the manner in which the plan is prepared, executed and adjusted, and it is often as much fun to watch a plan go wrong as it is to watch it go right. Soderbergh lets things unfold at a leisurely pace, never hesitating to pause the proceedings for frequently comedic diversions such as rioting prisoners demanding as-yet-unwritten installments of the Game of Thrones novels, Bang giving the Logan brothers a brief lesson in chemistry to explain why fake salt, bleach pens, and gummy bears will combine to create the perfect explosive for the job, or Bang’s brothers trying to reassert their flimsy moral code (“NASCAR is America. You’re making us hurt America.”).

    Rebecca Blunt’s screenplay (her first) rollicks along, diving deep and mining every bit of comic gold from its white trash milieu whilst avoiding making her characters complete caricatures. The entire cast, from the headliners to the most minor player, are excellent with Craig and Driver particular standouts. Driver is an especial source of delight, his gloriously deadpan manner yielding the most laughs.

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