Logan Lucky quickly lays out the situation of its protagonist, Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum): he’s divorced, has a daughter (Farrah Mckenzie), and is soon laid off from work because of an old football injury. His ex-wife Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes) has been talking about moving away with his daughter, which would make it harder for him to visit. So, with no means to really support himself, Jimmy decides to go rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway. He recruits his brother (Adam Driver), his sister (Riley Keough), and a convict (Daniel Craig) to try and make it happen.
A lot of the talk surround this picture involves the return of Steven Soderbergh to cinema after a retirement that turned out to a hiatus that still had the director doing a lot of compelling work as a producer and a TV show creator. It’s a rather absurd, comedic situation that wouldn’t feel out of place in one of the director’s films, really. Whatever the case, Soderbergh returns to big-screen directing with a relaxed caper that goes a little too long but is still confidently entertaining. It’s a riff on Ocean’s Eleven that breaks out of the bubble of luxury and finds meaning in the larger world.
It’s a heist film, but set in rural America. The target is not a casino, but a NASCAR racetrack. The characters don’t have the resources that the Oceans crew does, but they are more able to take advantage of cracks in the system. This is not a film about a crew of professionals deftly pulling off an incredible caper. It is instead a strangely breezy film about the ways that America is falling apart. It curiously studies several systems that become vulnerable just because people aren’t willing to admit that stuff has gone wrong.At nearly two hours, the film does test the limits of its premise. There isn’t really a whole lot of narrative here, and we don’t actually get to see a big chunk of the heist. But the Soderbergh’s unmistakably confident filmmaking goes a long way in keeping one’s attention. The tone is light and jaunty all throughout, and the film is able to navigate these bizarre transitions between broad comedy, smart commentary on economic disparity, and at points, genuinely emotional content. These scenes are so expertly put together that shaggy as the film might be, one might be able to forgive its excesses.
A charming cast of characters helps as well. Channing Tatum provides a solid center for this movie, the actor mostly playing stoic straight man to a carousel of more bombastic performances. Adam Driver brings a quiet oddness to an otherwise simple character. Riley Keough matches Tatum’s confidence beat for beat. Daniel Craig is cast against type, and seems to be relishing the absurd accent that he gets to use. It’s great to see Bond having fun for once. The odd man out in this cast is Seth McFarlane, who plays a British energy drink magnate who inexplicably feels like he’s walked in from a different film, in spite of the present variety of oddball acting choices.
Logan Lucky is just a good time at the cinema. On the surface, it’s just a fun little heist film that involves characters who don’t have nearly resources to pull off what they want to do. Dig a little deeper, and the movie is about an America more concerned with appearances than the truth of what they’re experiencing. It may run a little long, and perhaps it all gets a little self-indulgent. But for the most part, the movie is able to create beautiful harmony from those concepts, expertly crafting an entertaining little romp that just gets better the more you think about it.
LOGAN LUCKY IS NOW SHOWING IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE.