To quote one of the dimmer characters in its attempted speedway robbery, Logan Lucky is a “vagrant fliolation” – namely of the “retirement” from filmmaking Steven Soderbergh announced four years ago.
Logan lucky is such as safe-zone return for soderbergh – you could say his absence is like a drop in an ocean. The whole game plan goes like clockwork. There’s a small fortune to be stolen, a jostling ensemble needed to get together and do it. The hows, the wheres, the whys and the whens are stacked up with perfect dexterity by a show-runner who’s been around the block.
The difference between Logan Lucky and Oceans is simply the location and the characters. Blue-collar West Virginia, land of recession, nail extensions and child beauty pageants, is worlds away from the jazzy, flash-the-cash coastal milieus of Soderbergh’s Ocean’s franchise. Southern-born himself, he knows how to ring all these changes while making them mean something. Instead of charming Geroge Clooney, he has corn-fed channing tatum running the racket: decent, dignified, but rough around the edges.
Tatum’s jimmy logan grabs our attention as a hapless hero – laid off from coal-mining at the start, because his bosses catch wind that he’s walking around with a limp, sustained back in his high-school football days, and don’t fancy the medical bills. He says things like “I looked it up on the google”. And he has a bad relationship with his frosty ex-wife (Katie Holmes), who’s threatening to leave the state with their daughter and retain sole custody.
Jimmy needs a windfall, badly, and his brother – the even-unluckier Clyde (Adam Driver), who lost him left arm in his second tour of iraq, is softly willing to come on board. Clyde works in a local dive bar, pouring drinks with his good hand, and philosophising about the Logan family curse: one which doesn’t yet seem to have afflicted their sister Mellie (Riley Keough), a hairdresser and amateur petrolhead they can rely upon for any and all high-speed getaways as the plan gathers pace. Breaking in, though, will need the services of Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), a white-haired, not-to-be-messed-with safe-cracker who is currently serving jail time for his prior misdeeds.
“Introducing Daniel Craig” was in the credits, similar to julia roberts in oceans eleven. craig is visibly enjoying the role, which suits him more than playing bond. could this be the start of a franchise?
He makes jokes about prison onesies that still wouldn’t calm your nerves about getting headbutted in the next beat. Breaking him out, and then back in, without the authorities having a clue becomes the order of the day, and Bang submits to this proposal with something down the aggressive end of a bemused shrug. He hasn’t got much to lose.
Does Soderbergh? He’s made more creatively risky films. The only major gamble is choosing the indie distributor Bleecker Street to put this one out, weaning himself away from the teat of big-bucks studio promotion, and seeing how the chips fall. The product, as he’d be willing to call it, is handily above par. And it’s the personality of the film that counts, more than the logistical finesse you can take as given.
The film’s comedy is loose and generous, and its esprit de corps sneaks up on you with a soft tread. Tatum, Driver and Keogh are so well-cast as siblings – their roles in Rebecca Blunt’s script so gently shaded, too – that you’d watch a sequel, at least in the hope it wasn’t as wilfully indulgent as Ocean’s 12.
High-octane fun that’s smartly assembled without putting on airs, Logan Lucky marks a welcome end to Steven Soderbergh’s retirement — and proves he hasn’t lost his ability to entertain.