Logan Lucky

 

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Steven Soderbergh’s return to the director’s chair produces not so much an exciting heist as a long drawn-out enigma. 

   
Logan Lucky

Logans Jimmy and Clyde: Channing Tatum and Adam Driver face up to Daniel Craig (centre)

 

Let us be clear: Logan Lucky is extremely confusing. A sort of dysfunctional, redneck revision of the Ocean’s 11+ films, it marks the return of the Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh, following his retirement after the completion of Behind the Candelabra (2013). Soderbergh’s new film, from an original screenplay by an unknown writer (going under the moniker of Rebecca Blunt), would seem to be right up the heistmeister’s street. It’s a slick, star-studded affair and is quite ingenious in its plotting. Unfortunately, its protagonist, an inarticulate and lumpish lug with a pronounced limp, too often resembles the film that he inhabits. He is Jimmy Logan, a brooding construction worker and former petty crook played by Channing Tatum. Having lost his wife, and then his job, Jimmy is desperate for cash to hire a divorce lawyer and to set his life to rights. An employee at the Charlotte Motor Speedway complex before his untimely dismissal, he sees a way to rob the place blind thanks to their pneumatic tube money distribution system and some opportune sinkholes. It’s complicated, but then Jimmy has a nose for elaborate systems, as evinced by the opening scene in which he fixes the engine of a pickup truck.

 

Like many of his cohorts, Jimmy Logan is a laid-back good-ol’-boy and Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky is as mellow and easy-going as an evening on the porch in the Deep South. The film is not without its perks, but it isn’t until Jimmy’s heist starts developing problems that an element of tension flickers into life. Many of the scenes display a colourful novelty, but seem more like picturesque detours than anything resembling a narrative thrust. There is, however, the aforementioned cast. As Logan’s unlucky, one-armed brother, Adam Driver never shifts his mask of melancholy, while Meg Ryan’s son Jack Quaid is a hoot as Fish Bang, a gormless hillbilly sporting the tattoo Dangerus [sic] on his arm. He and Sam Bang (Brian Gleeson, son of Brendan) are the younger brothers of the safecracker and explosives expert Joe Bang, played with scenery-chewing delight by Daniel Craig. When the latter stages a prison riot, it is not over the conditions of the facility but because the inmates have been denied a copy of George R.R. Martin's The Winds of Winter (which, at the time of going to press, has yet to be published).

 

Then the pay-off of the film’s final chapter just limps into a muddy resolution that is not immediately explicit. And with the last-minute addition of yet another character – a cop played by Hilary Swank – the film just wraps itself up. Ultimately, then, the joke would appear to be on the viewer.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Seth MacFarlane, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, Katherine Waterston, Dwight Yoakam, Sebastian Stan, Hilary Swank, Daniel Craig, Farrah Mackenzie, Brian Gleeson, Jack Quaid, David Denman, Macon Blair, LeAnn Rimes.

 

Dir Steven Soderbergh, Pro Gregory Jacobs, Mark Johnson, Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin, Screenplay Rebecca Blunt, Ph Peter Andrews (aka Steven Soderbergh), Pro Des Howard Cummings, Ed Mary Ann Bernard (aka Steven Soderbergh), Music David Holmes, Costumes Ellen Mirojnick.

 

Trans-Radial Pictures/Free Association-StudioCanal.

118 mins. USA. 2017. Rel: 25 August 2017. Cert. 12A.