Billed as the hillbilly version of Ocean’s Eleven, Logan Lucky truly lives up to that reputation, a light-hearted summer caper set in a part of the country less often depicted on screen. Featuring an A-list cast of stars and directed by none other than Steven Soderbergh himself, out of retirement, Logan Lucky follows the Logan family, who enlist another local family, the Bang family, to pull off a heist of a Nascar racetrack on a race day.
Like Ocean’s Eleven, there’s a lot of mechanics at play here for why the timing of the heist has to be just right, why they need all the people they need in the heist, the whos and whats and wheres and whys, it’s all very clockwork. Unlike Ocean’s Eleven, these are not sophisticated career criminals – these are blue collar country folk. As a result, Logan Lucky is colorful and eccentric, where Ocean’s Eleven is glamorous and sleek.
Logan Lucky stars Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, and Riley Keough as the Logan siblings, Jimmy, Clyde, and Mellie. Clyde thinks the Logan family is cursed, and it’s hard not to see why – Jimmy has a limp from a football injury that prevented him from going pro, and Clyde is missing an arm (well, a hand). Looking to change their unlucky ways, they enlist convicted felon Joe Bang (Daniel Craig – absolutely delightful as a country-fried southerner, god damn!) and his brothers. What follows is honestly not too far away from Ocean’s Eleven in terms of the mechanics – a lot of this stuff is the same territory.
Tatum and Driver are both good here but Keough is the real standout – she’s so vibrant and magnetic on-screen, and one of the most entertaining female characters Soderbergh has directed in his career. She is so good here.
Of course, Soderbergh could direct this movie in his sleep – it’s so natural, so pleasant and enjoyable to have him back in the director’s chair (for a film at least, his retirement was the most productive retirement ever), and he clearly hasn’t lost his touch. There’s a warmth and affection for the South in this film that clearly carries it through – the characters and people not idealistic but certainly not cynical either and there’s an honesty to the depiction.
All told, Logan Lucky is as much fun as I’d hoped, and if some of the plot strands didn’t make sense or were left dangling, Soderbergh’s direction papers over all faults. I saw this in a half-empty theater and most reports are that the box office isn’t as good as was hoped. Logan Lucky is a movie that ten years from now people are going to say, “Boy, that was an underappreciated masterpiece”, and I’m going to be sitting there, frustrated, saying “But I told you to see it!”… So go see it.