Logan Lucky Review: Soderbergh in Top Form
Logan Lucky Review: Director Steven Soderbergh returns to his a familiar genre with a star heavy cast and a fast-paced script.
Director and producer Steven Soderbergh’s movies may not always be the most memorable (Side Effects, anyone?), but for a filmmaker who’s had as long and prolific a career as he has, he rarely makes a bad one. They aren’t all Oscar winners, but they are usually entertaining.
Regardless of whether or not Logan Lucky is remembered much beyond its life in theatres (and initial home release), those who do manage to take it in, either by deliberately seeking it out or stumbling upon it in the future, are in for one helluva treat. Soderbergh is among the smartest and savviest of Hollywood’s storytellers today, a fact he has proven repeatedly, and Logan Lucky is a welcome reminder of his skills.
Logan Lucky is a delightful, low budget film (the budget is reportedly under $30 million) that aims to entertain and impress, and it accomplishes both. Set primarily in a small backwood town in West Virginia, Soderbergh serves up a hearty dose of a genre he’s arguably mastered: the heist movie. In a film that is basically Ocean’s 11 for rednecks, Logan Lucky is safe and familiar territory for this director, but Soderbergh still manages to make it fresh and entirely enjoyable just the same.
Frequent Soderbergh collaborator Channing Tatum stars as Jimmy Logan, a country construction worker and divorcee, whose family – according to locals – has the unfortunate distinction of being cursed. Poverty and incarceration are familiar companions in the Logans’ world, and the best endeavors by their posse always seem to inevitably go sour. And the hard times really are felt by all.
After a tour of duty in Iraq robs him of his arm, Jimmy’s younger brother Clyde (Adam Driver) is forced to trade dreams of overseas glory for slingin’ drinks in his hometown. He’s also prone to periodic recitals of the family’s many misfortunes; a bleak picture for our little clan of rednecks. But change is in the wind for the Logans.
Upon losing his job for “liability reasons involving insurance,” Jimmy hatches an ingenious plan to get his family on top: a robbery. But not a bank. Not a casino. A NASCAR race. And not just any race. The Coca-Cola 600 — one of the biggest races on the NASCAR calendar and a pivotal socio-economic event in the local, loud, motor-loving culture.
Of course, a cast of colorful compatriots is now necessary, and Jimmy sets out to assemble some local experts for his team: The muscle and ballistics expert of the operation, Joe Bang (Daniel Craig); the sexy Logan sister and town stylist, Mellie Logan (Riley Keough); A duo of redneck “hackers,” Fish and Sam Bang, (Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson, respectively), the type who have access to Twitter but not much of an education.
From the team’s assembly on, Soderbergh then meticulously take the viewer into the big gas-guzzled money chase with the slick humor of Ocean’s 11 and a dash of the social awareness of Erin Brockovich. The comedic talents of the fantastic cast are formidable. From Craig delivering a memorable, and very-not-Bond performance, to fabulously understated turns from Keough and Driver, the entire cast delivers as Soderberg deftly guides the audience through the numerous twists and turns. Each actor plays their part with comic precision, and the script (by first-time screenwriter Rebecca Blunt) glitters with the wit and style worthy of a Coen Brothers’ caper.
Logan Lucky Review Conclusion
Soderbergh is, arguably, the best working director when it comes to crafting a Hollywood heist movie. He knows the comedic beats to hit, and he has a knack for casting. It also helps that his reputation is strong enough that he can get actors like Tatum and Craig – both of whom combined tend to command a higher salary than the entire budget of the film – to take much less to work with the director. And he rarely disappoints.
Logan Lucky marks Soderbergh’s first directorial outing in four years after spending some time focusing on TV and producing, and his return to the big screen would be hard-pressed to have come off better. The sharp balance of comedy and social commentary Soderbergh is known for shines abundantly and effortlessly throughout the film, and an interesting and memorable turn from Hillary Swank rounds out the end in a way that makes the viewer consider a second go around. Definitely one worth a spin around the track.
Logan Lucky is rated is rated PG-13 with a running time of 119 minutes.