This 2017 American heist comedy is directed by Steven Soderbergh and stars Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keough, Daniel Craig, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Seth MacFarlane and Sebastian Stan.
Brothers Jimmy (Tatum), a former football star, and Clyde (Driver) Logan, an Iraq war veteran, are faced with some family dilemmas and come up with the idea to steal money taken at the Coca-Cola 600 race on Memorial Day weekend to help them out.
Using Jimmy’s knowledge of the underground passages at the Charlotte Motor Speedway where he used to work, the two recruit sister Millie (Keough), safecracker Joe Bang (Craig) and his two brothers Sam (Brian Gleeson) and Fish (Jack Quaid).
The group must come up with a plan to first break out Joe, work their way into the speedway area grounds, take the money from under everyone’s noses and make it out in one piece and get Joe back to prison. It’s crazy, but with luck on their side, the Logan boys may just pull it off…
Take elements from director Soderbergh’s back catalogue – 90% ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ and 10% ‘Magic Mike’, blend it and pour it over a hill-billy West Virginia setting and you have ‘Logan Lucky’. It’s nothing but a comedy heist film with a great cast, fun characters and a by the book story that ticks the boxes for those wanting an easy 1hr 50mins of entertainment in capable hands.
For the first time ever, Channing Tatum wins me over in a role he plays perfectly. Not a dim-witted country bumpkin as you may expect from trailers, but a blue-collar working family man with a good heart without nearly any crass or crude comedy in sight. Pair him with Adam ‘Kylo Ren’ Driver as his equally good hearted brother, and you have a duo who you can’t help grow to like. They’re a simple pair, but never go down a stereotypical Forrest Gump route in their roles. With both characters having physical disabilities, it’s nice to see a minority portrayed on the big screen in lead roles.
And then the supporting cast – the spunky Riley Keough who rocks a pair of white cowboy boots, Sebastian Stan as Speedway racer Dayton White, Seth MacFarlane as a not too annoying fellow racer Max Chillblain and Hilary Swank in a fleeting but awesome role as Detective Sarah Grayson. All great actors given great material to work with.
But let’s not forget Craig. Daniel Craig. Since 2015s ‘SPECTRE’, this is his first leading role in two years amidst his ‘will he, won’t he’ drama about his role as James Bond. Here he’s a far cry from the British secret agent with his short bleach blond hair, thick accent and numerous tattoos. Clearly having fun in his role as convict Joe Bang, Craig gets to lend some of his humour to the film alongside Driver and Tatum which makes him even more enjoyable to watch.
With a story that doesn’t duck and dive out of a linear narrative too much, Soderbergh follows a well-worn but effective heist check-list. The set-up, the motive, the plan, the heist, the come-down, the pay-off. We know what to expect, but now how it’s going to come – an outrageous plan to rob the Speedway circuit is nothing but ludicrous, but somehow believable. And of course everyone plays a part which comes to fruition towards the end of film when you see things you didn’t get to see initially.
The pacing zips along in the first hour or so, but for me it seemed to dip towards the heist itself and the finale. Momentum seemed to slow a little and everyone began to lose interest it seemed. Picking up in the closing few moments again thankfully to go out on a high, I just noticed the pace change and it got a little boring as everything cooled off on the action front and increased in the talking-drama-emotive front.
It’s not a cops and robbers heist, but a man taking back what he is owed to make good for his family with nobody getting killed or injured in the process. Soderbergh creates a near family friendly heist comedy that doesn’t need to resort to usual comedic traits in order to be clever and smart and mature in theme. There is also a great country sound-track, and for what it’s worth, the Speedway racing amounts to 1 minute or less – this isn’t scattered throughout and only adds to the background atmosphere and setting; the noises and location play more than the racing itself.
Does it need a sequel? No. Leave it as is. A good cast and crew offer something different in a summer of big-name loud blockbusters and just allow you to turn off your brain and have some fun with a semi-original idea to counter the super-hero/comic book genre.