It is an absolute pleasure to welcome Steven Soderbergh back on the silver screen. Whether you want to call his prolonged absence from the multiplex an extended hiatus or an early retirement that didn’t last, we are happy that one of the masters of contemporary cinema is making feature films again.
Logan Lucky couldn’t have been a better fit for the Oscar-winning filmmaker’s talent given his proverbial love for conmen with a conscience and crime stories told with witty humour. His latest effort isn't just a wickedly hilarious hillbilly take on his all-time box office hit Ocean's Eleven but also a briskly-paced, thoroughly entertaining, old school heist movie with a huge heart and a brilliant cast.
Jimmy and Clyde Logan – Channing Tatum and Adam Driver – a pair of ‘allegedly cursed’ brothers who live in West Virginia, plot a heist to rob the revenues of an upcoming NASCAR race in order to turn their lives around.
A former high school superstar quarterback whose bright future was cut short by a leg injury, Jimmy now works as a construction worker but he loses his latest job because deemed a liability by the insurance when they find out about his injury. Clyde is a veteran who lost his hand on his return from Afghanistan – a quiet soul who now runs a rustic bar and doesn’t look for trouble unless he’s being provoked. Although generally content with his current lifestyle, Clyde chooses to help Jimmy who, on the contrary, yearns for a financial breakthrough.
After learning that his ex-wife (Katie Holmes) is moving across state line with her new car-salesman husband, Jimmy wants to make sure he can afford to be there for their little daughter Sadie (impressive newcomer, Farrah Mackenzie). That’s why Clyde, along with their hairdresser sister Mellie (Riley Keough) get on board with Jimmy’s plan – the Logan siblings are a rather close-knit family unit and it’s made clear from the start.
The importance of family is the thematic undercurrent of Logan Lucky since the film’s opening scene with Jimmy fixing his truck with Sadie handing him all the tools like a pro assistant whilst they talk about the upcoming talent show she’s taking part in. Jimmy promises he’ll be there but of course, when he later comes up with the heist plan, Sadie’s talent show happens to be scheduled on the day of the NASCAR race, which inevitably adds an extra layer of emotional stakes to the whole operation.
The plan Jimmy has concocted isn’t a simple one as it involves breaking convict Joe Bang (a hilarious Daniel Craig) out of prison for the duration of the heist and then break him back into jail to serve the rest of his sentence. Bang is an explosives expert whose talents are required to break into the vault where all the race’s profits are being sent straight into via an intricate subterranean tube system.
Whether or not you’re a connoisseur and fan of Soderbergh’s back catalogue beyond the Ocean’s films, you’ll be certainly pleased with this latest entry in his filmography. The Oscar-winning filmmaker has crafted an extremely entertaining heist caper that nods to the Coen Brothers’ tonal range and humour whilst it’s clearly infused in Soderbergh’s slick visual style.
The director also shot and cut the film under pseudonyms as he usually does and there’s something about this process which works for him despite the daunting task of executing three of the most creatively demanding roles in filmmaking. Yet you can’t be mistaken that you’re watching a Steven Soderbergh movie – from the elegant cinematography to the brisk pace of the editing, and a carefully selected soundtrack, the signs are all there.
Aesthetics are not everything though and Soderbergh knows it, as proven by the wonderful casts he always puts together. This time around is no difference with new muse Tatum running the show, rising star Driver delivering great brotherly chemistry and understated humour and Daniel Craig reminding us of a range that transcends the Bond franchise.
Riley Keough could’ve probably used more screen time that's worthy of her talents but it’s great how the filmmaker manages to create memorable roles from the smallest parts and cameos. Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane as an obnoxious NASCAR driver with a fake British accent is one, whilst Hilary Swank’s hound-like FBI agent in the epilogue is another one.
Logan Lucky doesn’t take itself too seriously, although you can sense that behind the over-the-top hillbilly humour there’s a hint to a bit of social commentary on America’s current state of affairs. The film’s focus however is on the fun side of things and among many references and homages there’s a rather hilarious wink to TV’s rating-juggernaut Game Of Thrones which couldn’t be more timely since the show’s new season is currently on the air. Once again, we are extremely glad that Mr. Soderbergh is back on the big screen, although we’ve equally enjoyed his recent forays on the small one. Here’s to hope he’s actually going to continue to share his talent between both mediums for a long time coming.
Logan Lucky is out in UK cinemas from August 25th.
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