7 out of 10
Channing Tatum as Jimmy Logan
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Logan Lucky Review:
The Logan family has had a long run of bad luck. Clyde lost his hand in Iraq while on his way to the airport to return home. Jimmy had an injury that ended a promising football career, got divorced, and recently lost his job. Frustrated with their lot in life, they decide it’s time to break the family curse.
Jimmy hatches a plan to rob one of the largest NASCAR racetracks in the country. On his former job, he became very familiar with the track’s security and means of shuttling cash around the track via pneumatic tubes. He devises a foolproof plan to steal the money. However, they’re going to need help from a few friends.
Jimmy and Clyde recruit Joe Bang, a safe crackers and explosives expert with a long criminal history. There’s only one problem – he’s currently in prison. But that’s not a problem for the Logan Brothers. In fact, it’s all part of the plan. Thus begins one of the most elaborate bank heists in history that will either change the Logan luck for the better… or worse.
Logan Lucky is rated PG-13 for language and some crude comments.
The best description I can find for Logan Lucky is “Redneck Ocean’s 11.” After all, it features a colorful cast of Hollywood actors portraying an elaborate heist, just with a redneck twist. And that seems to be an unusual choice for Steven Soderbergh considering he planned to retire from film and he directed all of the Ocean’s 11 movies. But the fact that everyone seems self-aware of this absurdity and they’re having fun doing it makes it enjoyable. In fact, in the film they even refer to it as “Ocean’s 7-11.” Because of this carefree attitude, it ends up being a dumb, fun crowd pleaser.
The thing that Logan Lucky will most be remembered for is the performance of Daniel Craig as Joe Bang. This is one of those roles that’s a game changer for an actor. You’d normally only think of him for serious roles or James Bond, but this shows an incredible range for him. He’s capable of comedy and it’s completely unexpected. Joe Bang is a classic redneck, he suffers fools lightly, he’s a womanizer, and he’s unusually adept at chemistry. It’s an amusing performance that generates a lot of the laughs.
While Craig deserves a lot of praise, the rest of the cast is first rate as well. Channing Tatum leads them as Jimmy Logan. He’s charming as usual and falls into the redneck persona naturally. From camouflage pants to NASCAr attire, it’s not hard to believe him as a working class schmoe who falls on bad times. His straight man is Adam Driver as Clyde Logan. Going from Kylo Ren to this younger Logan brother is almost as big a stretch as Craig going from James Bond to Joe Bang. Clyde has a sadness about him that’s amplified by the loss of his limb in the military. But when his brother is threatened, he jumps into action as you’d expect family to do. Rounding out the Logan trio of siblings is Riley Keough as Mellie Logan. Keough is best known as Capable in Mad Max: Fury Road (and Elvis Presley’s granddaughter), so it’s quite a leap for her to become the Daisy Duke of this story. Logan Lucky puts a new spotlight on this actress and she’s more than proven she has the acting chops to pull off any role that comes her way.
The main cast is supported by a fantastic group of actors. Katherine Waterston plays Sylvia Harrison, a former love interest of Jimmy’s. Seth MacFarlane is Max Chilblain, an arrogant energy drink mogul and NASCAR sponsor. His driver is played by Bucky himself, Sebastian Stan. Then you have Hilary Swank as the determined FBI agent pursuing the Logans, Katie Holmes as Jimmy’s ex-wife, and even Dwight Yoakam as the prison warden. And I have to mention Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson as the younger Bang brothers. The two bring an extra level of redneck flair to the cast and round out the gang of accomplices.
The story, written by Rebecca Blunt (believed to be a pseudonym), has a lot of fun jokes in it. There is one particular exchange at the prison related to Game of Thrones which generated a lot of laughs. They have plenty of fun with the redneck culture which even rednecks will laugh at. But most of the laughs are simply from the witty dialogue and the great performances of the cast.
On a final note, the soundtrack is a lot of fun, too. It features classics like “Fortunate Son,” music by Bo Diddley, and more. And of course John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” which is the centerpiece of the story.
What Didn’t Work:
While Logan Lucky is advertised as a comic romp, there are a lot of scenes that are serious and more dramatic in tone. In fact, it takes quite a while to get to the real comedy. Because of that big shift in tone, the story feels a tad unfocused.
While this is a “Redneck Ocean’s 11”, it’s a little too much like Ocean’s 11. Beat for beat, it follows the familiar formula of the heist movie. The only thing that’s different is the redneck twist and the performances of the actors. I would have preferred something with a little more originality. It feels like Steven Soderbergh is phoning it in to some degree.
The story also portrays Jimmy Logan coming up with an incredibly elaborate plan for the heist. However, nowhere else in the film is it shown he’s some kind of secret tactical genius. Because of this, there’s not a lot of believability that he could have come up with the intricate plan we see in the film. Then again, there’s a lot that’s unrealistic in the movie, so this is admittedly nitpicking.
Finally, as a Southerner, it’s a little weird hearing all of these actors and actresses throwing on the thick Southern drawl when we know their real accents so well. Now I guess I know what Brits feel like when an American actor does a fake British accent. It off and on becomes distracting and even a tad condescending as they portray tacky, stereotypical rednecks. But while it’s a mild annoyance, it’s easy to get over as the laughs to come along.
The Bottom Line:
If you’d like to see a blend of Ocean’s 11 and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, then Logan Lucky is for you. If you’d like to see some A-list actors flex their acting chops, Logan Lucky is also for you. Or if you just want to see a light comedy on the big screen, then you’ll want to check out Logan Lucky. It’s not highbrow art, but it is fun.