Release Date: August 17, 2017
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Runtime: 119 Minutes
Like a blue-collar answer to his own the Ocean’s films of his past, Steven Soderbergh’s latest heist comedy, Logan Lucky, strips away the complexities of the genre and frames it around the common man’s hopes for a big score. Penned by mysterious (possibly fictitious) newcomer Rebecca Blunt and filled out by a talented ensemble of memorable performances like most Soderbergh films, Lucky carries itself with a cleverness that’s deceptively hidden behind loving layers of local Virginian colour.
Unlike the franchise with which Soderbergh revitalized the heist genre, the intrigue comes not from witnessing professionals do what they do best but rather from the local boys banding together and outsmarting the system that never pays them attention. For what that is worth, the film comes together evenly and is superbly directed.
Assembled to rob the vault of the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Coca-Cola 600 are the Logans (Adam Driver, Channing Tatum and Riley Keough), characters of local legend whose ambitions and resourcefulness clash hilariously with their deep-seeded, lower-class attitudes. Aided by a mesmerizing Daniel Craig as demolitions expert Joe Bang (heh heh), the film may never be forthright on the heist’s motives or how this crew came to figure out much of their plan, but it makes up for these lapses in logic with the excellent chemistry shared by this cast. Unlike most heist films, “the plan” as it were is never really expounded on and, instead, Lucky unfolds itself in the moment of the job and strings you along as it reveals its deftness and intricacies.
Soderbergh, for his part, forces his audience into this moment with his excellent sense of timing and editing. Uncompromising as it is, his directing style applies well to Blunt’s script, coming together smoothly with a keen sense of pace which involves you in the ramping urgency of the heist itself. The only thing I was uncertain on was his sense of comedy because, while the film’s script veers heavily into almost farcical territory multiple times, Soderbergh never seems to really emphasize a joke when it comes across. As if the audience was unsure of whether or not the film is a comedy, much of the films punchier dialogue feels ill-serviced by his style, wherein many good lines get dropped by an audience awkwardly unsure of where the joke began and ended.
This being said, the cast definitely was in the know and delivered performances perfectly in tune with the film’s working-class wavelength. Conducting themselves with simple dignity are Driver and Tatum, whose Logan Brothers charm in their straight, heavily accented manner of getting things done. Their modest means contrast with Craig, whose bombastic (heh heh) Joe Bang takes over many of their scenes with his unhinged criminal shtick that makes you hope he’ll agree to more lighthearted character work in the future.
The cast is universally admirable except one very hard to ignore black spot in Seth MacFarlane as some kind of racing promoter who gets more screen time than is necessary. Overacted with an atrocious British accent, it’s a cartoon characterization of a performance that rubs uncomfortably with the down-to-earth believability of the rest of the characters.
Like the other blue-collar crime film from last year, Hell or High Water, Logan Lucky endears itself to us and surprises when it reveals how well it can read a room to please by showcasing the little guy. The Logans aren’t exactly motivated by a righteous moral backbone, a sense they were wronged by the system or “the thrill of the score.” What differentiates Logan Lucky from the rest of the heist genre is that the Logans are capable, nonprofessional and motivated by the fact that they can do the job, and no one expects them to be able to pull it off.