Marking one of cinemas most anticipated returns of 2017 is Steven Soderbergh’s inevitable comeback movie Logan Lucky. Following his self-imposed exile from Hollywood in 2013 he’s not exactly been quiet, however his return to feature film was what fans were most excited for, and it’s certainly worth the wait, a classic Soderbergh heist with a charming and irresistible West Virginia twist.
A charming cast playing cracking characters
Fired from his job building service tunnels under speedway tracks, frustrated at himself for not being a better Dad to his daughter, and tired of spending every night listening to the ramblings of his brother in the local bar, Channing Tatum’s warm, charismatic Jimmy Logan plans the robbery of a lifetime. With the help of their level headed younger sister Mellie Logan (Riley Keough) they cook up a supposedly idiot proof scheme to hit a gigantic NASCAR event in North Carolina, the Coca-Cola 600.
Adam Driver is having an exceptional run of performances in the last couple of years and this is no different. Completing the trio of siblings is Driver’s Clyde, a strong believer in the mythical Logan family curse that apparently answers for him losing his arm in Iraq and for Jimmy being released from his job. Firmly set on finally defying their shared run of bad luck he eventually agrees to help with his brother’s “Robbery To Do list”. This is not exactly Danny Ocean levels of sophistication and intricate planning.
Daniel Craig’s best roll for years is an obvious highlight, playing ‘Joe Bang’ a local West Virginia legend in the world of robbery, and a redneck specialist in unorthodox explosives, who the Logan’s enlist to join their team. He’s terrifying yet hilarious, and naturally steals every scene he’s in. Reportedly Craig was granted free reign and crucial added input on how his character looked and sounded, reaffirming his inherent talent as a character actor. Slightly unhinged and eyes bulging, Craig sports a peroxide blonde mohawk and is covered head to toe in scribbly prison tattoos, dressed in a ‘prison onesie’ and is partial to a hardboiled egg or six. It’s about as far from Bond as you could get in a character, and an inspired piece of casting.
Classic Soderbergh with some unconventional turns
We are kept in the loop of the brothers’ cunning plan throughout, yet the devious team of maniacs and hillbillies still manage to surprise us at every turn with yet more layers to the cunning masterplan. They’re not real criminals like we’re used to seeing commit robberies on screen, and there’s no glamour here, so naturally we root for them entirely from the outset, a trick Soderbergh has used on countless occasions before.
The conclusion may leave some viewers slightly unsatisfied and lacks the drama and rich spoils of other heist movies but that’s what also makes this such a refreshing and exciting film. It doesn’t submit to the conventions of typical crime caper narratives, and it’s almost as if Soderbergh is mocking his own characters’ incompetence at times, but the ride it takes you on is way more enjoyable for it. Around the halfway stage the film seems to lose momentum slightly, and the pacing is quite sluggish at times for a heist film that relies mainly on dialogue rather than eye catching action sequences. There’s also a bizarre, virtually unexplained cameo from Hilary Swank who is introduced far too late, but the feel good factor and dry wit of a fantastic script overcome these small issues overall.
It’s not quite perfect by any means, but it’s genuinely a lot funnier than most will expect, and with some fantastic performances and even better chemistry, it’s one of the most satisfying and fun pictures of the year so far. It’s a triumphant return from a director who helped redefine the heist movie over a decade ago, and he might just have done exactly that again.
Words by Ed Budds