Logan Lucky (2017)

Review #1,492

Director:  Steven Soderbergh
Cast:  Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes
Plot:  Two brothers attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina.

Genre:  Comedy / Crime / Drama
Awards:  -
Runtime:  118 mins
Rating:  PG13 for language and some crude comments
International Sales:  FilmNation Entertainment

“Is it twenty or is it thirty?  We are dealing with science here!”

Infamously declaring he had retired from making films in 2013, Steven Soderbergh is back to scratch that itch with a new feature film, Logan Lucky.  Retirement is a funny word for the American director of such movies as Traffic (2000), Magic Mike (2012) and the ‘Ocean’s’ trilogy, because in those four years of presumed inactivity, he has made twenty episodes for the acclaimed television series ‘The Knick’.  

In a bid to experiment with a financing and marketing strategy that wouldn’t require a studio to distribute the film, Soderbergh’s indie offering was pre-sold to territories around the world.  Its box-office returns aren’t that promising however, with a worldwide gross of no more than US30 million, barely recouping its production budget.  But surely this is an exciting model for independent auteurs to circumvent the studio system?

Logan Lucky stars a trio of leading male stars in Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and Daniel Craig (who’s cast against type), who would work together to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race.  Tatum and Driver play Jimmy and Clyde Logan respectively, two odd brothers bogged down by the ‘Logan Curse’ that runs in the family—when things seem to go right, that’s when it goes south.  

Craig plays an inmate serving a sentence—but more importantly he’s Joe Bang, an expert in blowing ultra-secure safes up.  Save for the contours of his familiar ‘Bond’ face, Craig is almost unrecognisable with dyed hair and a thick Southern accent.  

One would immediately sense from the onset that Soderbergh’s film would shape up to be one of those offbeat movies with idiosyncratic characters.  In some ways, it does feel like a Coen brothers movie, in its portrayal of a distinct slice of eccentric Americana.  Logan Lucky works best as a light comedy, of which it offers plenty of awkward scenarios and heavily-accented dialogue delivered with deadpan precision for maximum laughs.  

The main flaw of the film, however, is in its uneven pacing, half-grooving and half-plodding along to a protracted ending.  The story may be well-told, and clever in its construction of plot, but the film seems to be lacking in that final push or thrust that puts it confidently across the finishing line.  

Still, Soderbergh’s craft is immaculate, and there are some standout moments of incredulity to savour.  While he has made better films, the return of one of America’s most talented indie directors to big screen filmmaking is certainly a cause for a mini-celebration.  

Verdict:  Soderbergh returns with an offbeat heist comedy featuring strong performances, but one that half-grooves and half-plods along.





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