America is a big place. I always get a little annoyed that they are counted as one country in global sports contests like the Olympics because their border stretches from one side of a continent to the other, while other countries like Luxembourg or Switzerland are small little places squished up amongst other nations. You may think this is a weird tangent for a film review, but I think it raises an interesting issue. Being so big, one cannot define America as one type of people, one geography or one culture, it is almost like an empire, there are so many different states each with individual topography and climate and popular pastimes. So we can get two movies about heists and because of the state they are set they can have completely different stories and characters despite being set in the same country. This leads us to Stephen Soderbergh, most famous for his series of Oceans movies, and he returns to the heist genre with a film set in Virginia, Logan Lucky.
Jimmy Logan has just lost his job and his ex-wife is moving to another state with his daughter. Without a source of income and without money to hire a lawyer to get custody of his child, Jimmy along with his brother, Clyde and sister, Mellie decides to rob a Nascar race track. So they enlist the help of explosives expert, Joe Bang, to help them get a whole lot of money.
Stephen Soderbergh should be a dab hand at these types of stories. He lent a style and a flair to the Oceans series that made them a fun romp through Las Vegas and other exotic locations. Here he is paired down to a single domestic setting, Virginia, and he is presented with a rather simple premise, poor working class people want to steal a whole lot of money to help them through difficult times. So it should be smooth sailing for the film, with a man as experienced as Soderbergh right? Well, for the most part, this is correct. However, I have some quibbles with the plot, the twist and the end. It felt a little too easy, a little too reliant on coincidence, there were also too many threads left dangling without any form of satisfactory resolution. Similarly, there weren’t enough hints throughout the film to cue the viewer on what was actually happening, and thus the final reveal felt cheap and self-indulgent. Finally the tease of a sequel, really?! These problems might be put at the feet of one Rebbeca Blunt, first-time screen writer, who penned the screen play, though there are rumours floating around that Rebbeca Blunt is a nom-de-plum, so whoever wrote the script needed to go over it a couple more times to tighten up the loose ends.
However, distracting us from these inconsistencies is a main cast of likeable and fun characters. Jimmy and Clyde Logan make a great pair, Channing Tatum’s Jimmy is a complex collection of heart, desperation and hidden depth. He is tremendously sympathetic, helped by the chemistry between him and the child playing his daughter; I wanted him to succeed in his quest because of it. On the other side, Clyde’s deep, slightly slow drawl played by Adam Driver of Star Wars Kylo Ren fame could crack me up every time. Backing them up is a career best and a break from the norm for James Bond Alum, Daniel Craig. I found Craig’s portrayal of explosives expert Joe Bang to be utterly captivating; he seems to be having so much fun not only stealing the money but also every scene he is in.
For all its faults in regards to the story, and there are a few, Logan Lucky is a nice, entertaining film. It doesn’t have the slick tightness that Soderbergh’s Oceans films have, but there is a charm and lightness that makes Logan Lucky unique and fun. I think that this film makes a great trip to the pictures.
You can watch Logan Lucky in cinemas now