Logan Lucky (2017) Review
A Hankerin' for High Cotton
The heist comedy Logan Lucky is director Steven Soderbergh’s first film since retiring after 2013’s Behind the Candelabra. The film reunites Soderbergh with Channing Tatum and Riley Keough along with introducing the opportunity to work with yet another diverse cast bursting with incredible talent including the likes of Adam Driver, Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes, Katherine Waterston, Dwight Yoakam, Sebastian Stan, Hilary Swank, and Daniel Craig.
The Logan brothers, Jimmy (Tatum) and Clyde (Driver), are rumored to be cursed in their small hometown located somewhere in the rural wasteland known as Boone County, West Virginia. Jimmy was destined to be a legend in football before his leg gave out while Clyde did two tours in Iraq and lost one of his hands along the way. After Jimmy gets let go from his job, he takes drastic measures to pull off a nearly impossible heist at Charlotte Speedway with the help of his brother, their sister Mellie (Keough), and bank vault expert, explosives extraordinaire, and current prison inmate Joe Bang (Craig) all in an effort to support his pageant-obsessed daughter and prove that the Logan curse is just a myth.
The coolest aspect of Logan Lucky is that it basically shatters most assumptions regarding those who would be labeled as rednecks or hillbillies. The film executes everything the likes of Ocean’s Eleven does, but without the benefits of flashy technology, an intricate team full of numerous and knowledgeable individuals, and has a base located outside city limits. Logan Lucky pulls off something unthinkable on a shoestring budget with characters that are relatable and seem genuine thanks to their flaws and quirky traits.
Heist films feel like a safe-zone and a go-to feature for Soderbergh, but Logan Lucky is a challenging effort that allows everyone to push their boundaries to see how talented they really are. The film is extremely dialogue driven with most of the humor in the film coming from the mispronunciation (“The Google,” “The Twitters,” “Call-ee-flower”) and complete misuse of more complex words (“dramastically,” “flolation”), but there’s actually this backwoods kind of intelligence to Logan Lucky that is extremely impressive no matter how you look at it. The heist itself has a science to it that continues to unravel as the film plays out, which will never have you looking at bleach pens, gummy bears, or fake salt the same way ever again.
The main and supporting cast is the driving force behind the Nascar-fueled heist comedy. Macon Blair, Hilary Swank, Sebastian Stan, and Katherine Waterston basically have glorified cameos with Swank in particular seemingly fighting back laughter every time she’s on screen. Dwight Yoakam is amusing as the warden of the prison completely in denial about what goes on there (riots, fires, hostage situations, etc). Seth MacFarlane is almost unrecognizable as Nascar sponsor and spotlight-obsessed tycoon Max Chilblain but his self-righteous demeanor is felt throughout the picture. Adam Driver is the more withdrawn of the two Logan brothers while Channing Tatum portrays the more exuberant one. This is Jimmy’s show and Clyde is just along for the ride.
The high point of the cast has to be Daniel Craig. Craig has never been more energetic or hilarious. Joe Bang is extremely aware of the predicament he’s in and he can’t tell if the Logan brothers are brilliant or stupid, but he has nothing to lose other than his impending parole in a matter of months. Joe is the smartest of his three brothers, but he’s also the most eccentric. His speech about low cholesterol and insistence on not peeking while he gets naked in the backseat of a blue mustang is some of the most memorable material in the film.
Logan Lucky isn’t the most hilarious or action packed film of 2017, but it is surprisingly ingenious with an ensemble cast loaded with chemistry and chuckle-worthy humor. It feels criminal to call these characters white trash since there’s so much more to them than what is on the surface, but Logan Lucky is pure redneck genius and Daniel Craig delivers an absurdly awesome performance that is one of the most memorably comical of his career.
© 2017 Chris Sawin