Whoever holds the rights to John Denver’s work must be rolling in it this year. I’ve heard his song Take Me Home, Country Roads three times this year. Although, seeing as the other two uses of it were in sci-fi films of all things, at least Logan Lucky makes sense. What with it being set in West Virginia and all. Anyway, less on that, let’s talk about Logan Lucky.
Channing Tatum is down on his luck. His brother, one armed Adam Driver isn’t fairing much better and his sister, Riley Keough, is doing just as well. This, if we are to believe Driver’s ramblings, is because of the Logan family curse. They are a family plagued with bad luck and financial debt. Together, they plan to rectify that. A big sports event is coming up at a local racing track, with a lot of money being dumped into an almost entirely unmanned safe. Together, and with help from a former bank-robber, played by Daniel Craig, they aim to steal a lot of cash from right under a stadiums nose.
If this is sounding a little bit like Oceans 11, as well as most heist films out there, it’s probably because Oceans and Logan Lucky share the same director. Steven Soderbergh has always been an interesting customer on the directing front. Like Christopher Nolan and Denis Villeneuve, Soderbergh has a talent for making art-house films disguised as blockbusters – whether it be famous films like Oceans 11 or Contagion, or the more obscure ones like The Girlfriend Experiment (also known as that film that starred porn-star Sasha Grey). I’ve always liked Soderbergh’s work, finding his films easy to get into and having a great sense of drama and humour – not to mention just being altogether well made. That being said though I only like his works, I don’t love them. And that’s pretty much the same with Logan Lucky.
Once again, Soberbergh has made a very well-crafted and intelligent heist film. There were twists and turns that I did not see coming, but never did they feel like cop-outs. Everything is played with a surreal sense of realism, despite how preposterous it can feel at times. What I mean is, the plan is far-fetched, but it’s handled or just explained in such a way that you believe that this would work in real life. The directing is pretentious, but not noticeably so – which is expected given his previous work. The writing was mostly solid too. Although, there were a number of scenes that either lead nowhere or came out of nowhere. Most character introductions are done without ceremony, mostly with them just appearing in a random scene. I can see people seeing this as a unique way of introducing characters, but I found it a little jarring. Maybe it’s just not what I’m used to, but I can’t help but feel distracted by it.
In term of acting, there wasn’t a bad performance to be found. Tatum, Driver and Keough worked brilliantly as a trio, each easily bouncing off of the others. We also have some small roles from Hillary Swank and Seth MacFarlane, of all people here, once again good jobs for minor roles. It was, however, Daniel Craig who stole the show for me. His accent was pretty distracting, I won’t lie, but he easily played the most memorable character in the whole film. He got the best lines, the best jokes and contributed a lot to the plot. He was also very complex in his role and at a point you do find yourself wondering if he is really on their side.
Other than random scenes and character introductions, I do feel that Logan Lucky could have been around ten minutes shorter. Not that it dragged really, but there was a bit of trimming that could have been done to tighten the story. I also found it hard to get invested in the heist itself. This mostly comes down to some weak reasonings as to why they are robbing the vault in the first place. There’s a throwaway line about Tatum needing cash to pay for a custody lawyer, but that is literally one line in one scene. Also, while they aren’t well off, I’m not too certain why they – Driver in particular – would go to the lengths they do to rob a place. With Craig it makes sense, he is a bank robber. But for the Logan family, not so much.
There really is much more that can be said without major spoilers now. Logan Lucky is definitely not the best film to feature Logan in the title this year, but it’s still good. Like many of Soderbergh’s films, I recommend it, even if it’ll be a while before I see it again. Good direction, acting and a fairly good script hold this film higher than most this year – and if you’re sick of heroes and blockbusters where things go boom every five minutes, then here is the film you were probably waiting for. Give it a go, you might feel lucky come the end too.
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