The amount of times director Steven Soderbergh says he’s retiring from directing films is really never a shocker to me. He’s a very talented director actually doing original movies that are outside the norm in Hollywood. He’s also the man responsible for the fantastic remake of Ocean’s 11 and its two sequels. Now he’s coming back from a brief retirement to make a return to the heist genre with Logan Lucky.
Hoping to reverse a “curse” that’s been hung over his family for generations, Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) has a plan to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Coca-Cola 600. He convinces his brother Clyde (Adam Driver) and his sister Mellie (Riley Keough) to help pull this heist off. But first, they have to break Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) out of jail in broad daylight.
Soderbergh created Fingerprint Releasing to distributed films independently, and Logan Lucky is the first film to do so. The news of him coming out of retirement sounded like it will have some leeway into directing a smart and witty comedy that a lot of his fans will enjoy very much so.
Though heist films do tend to get a little old as time passes, Logan Lucky’s premise does actually sound clever as it’s different from banks or people who crossed them over. Never seen one where they’re robbing a speedway while the race is happening. First-time screenwriter Rebecca Blunt doesn’t trend on anything new dealing with the genre, but at times it’s smart and a little unpredictable. And the cinematography from Soderbergh himself was surprisingly well-crafted.
Tatum, reuniting with his Magic Mike director, is always the standout when it comes to comedy. I saw the connection that his character has after losing his job after reports of his limp leg and wants to see her daughter all the time. Both him and Driver worked together well enough to perfectly make them brothers. Driver’s Clyde is a bartender who lost part of his arm on a tour of duty in Iraq and now has a prosthetic arm.
It feels strange to see Craig in a comedy instead of some action movie. Now, he’s a blonde, southern criminal who knows who to blow stuff up, and he sold every scene he’s in.
There aren’t a lot of laughs in here, although there are some funny lines. Some of the pacing was slow because I feel like some scenes didn’t need to belong to set up the heist, which I kind of expected from someone like Soderbergh. The film itself could’ve been a lot shorter rather than being exactly two hours. Most of the performances like Hilary Swank, Seth MacFarlane (a character not needed), Katherine Waterston, or Sebastian Stan doesn’t get to do that much material.
Unlike the dumbfounded Masterminds from last year, this is the actual “Hillbilly Heist” that’s actually more interesting and well-written. It’s perfectly one of those films where I don’t love it like everyone else is saying and that’s not a problem, to be honest. There’s nothing in Logan Lucky that’s going to be memorable for a number of reasons, but it still works as a fun watch for the performances and the direction alone.
Logan Lucky doesn’t stand out as one of Soderbergh’s best films in a while, but with a steady cast and an original heist plot makes for a worthwhile comedy. Grade: B-