Logan Lucky (2017)
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Rebecca Blunt
Starring: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Riley Keough, Hilary Swank
A heist movie with a difference, Logan Lucky is endearingly scrappy but struggles to neatly tie all of its elements together into a fluid narrative.
Logan Lucky tells the tale of two brothers (Tatum and Driver) who attempt to steal the takings from the biggest NASCAR race of the year, with the help of an imprisoned bank robber (Craig) and his hillbilly brothers. In short, the film is a mixed bag, excelling on some elements while falling flat others. It is a relatively enjoyable heist movie, dotted with moments of ingenuity, but lacking the ability to link these all together in a sturdy framework.
In the same way that the dynamic composure of other heist movies, such as Oceans 11-13 (2001-2007) and Now You See Me (2013), mimics the cool composure of its cast, Logan Lucky has a scrappy, rough-and-ready feel to it, which mimics its own band of would-be-robbers. Unfortunately, this symmetry doesn’t translate well for Logan Lucky, the film often feeling shapeless and sloppy, not helped by some seriously slapdash editing in the initial third. This lack of form means that its facets struggle to neatly converge; they are flimsy and barely hold each other up, and lack the cinematic zest or innovation needed to really allow it to shine. Similarly, Logan Lucky is guilty of more than a little far-fetchedness, some major aspects of the heist relying far too heavily on chance - unwise in a genre in which fans value authenticity.
From a sensory perspective, however, Logan Lucky passes with flying colours. It teleports the viewer straight into small town, NASCAR loving America, deep in the heart of the Mountain State - helped in this by vibrant shots of green Virginian forests cut through with winding roads. It is wonderfully "country", even unashamedly exploiting a global love for John Denver’s famous song*. This brilliant immersion and its fantastic soundtrack (brimming with American blues and classic rock) together generate enough energy to keep the film ticking along.
Tatum and Driver are brilliantly coarse as our rough-around-the-edges Logan brothers, both swapping their customary chiselled charm for a more rugged veneer, but one that is instantly endearing. Craig is criminally under-utilised and given a less than inspirational script which by no means matches his talent, but despite this he still manages to be one of the film's best aspects. Meanwhile, Swank’s contribution is bizarre. Placed very late on, it amounts to very little and serves only to confuse the audience until the film's final moments. Considerable talent is attached to the film, but Logan Lucky deigns to use that talent's full potential.
Logan Lucky brings a handful of inventive and original ideas to the already extensive heist movie genre but fails to be slick enough or creative enough for it to stand out. A visual and auditory success though, with a likeable cast which is competent but perhaps misspent, Logan Lucky is a fun watch provided your expectations aren’t too high.
In one line: An easy watch heist movie with a welcoming quality, but one with a slovenly narrative which doesn’t deliver as much as it could or should.
*Take Me Home, Country Roads, (1971)