“Logan Lucky” (2017)
Running Time: 119 minutes
Written by: Rebecca Blunt
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Featuring: Adam Driver, Channing Tatum, Riley Keough, Daniel Craig, Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Katherine Waterston and Sebastian Stan
Joe Bang: “I am in-car-ce-ra-ted.”
Jimmy Logan: “Yeah, we got a plan to get you out.”
Joe Bang: “You Logan’s must be as simple minded as people say.”
Jimmy and Clyde: “Do people say that? Why?”
Did anyone really believe that Steven Soderbergh was actually going to stay retired after his last film, the very good medical thriller “Side Effects” (2013), which was closely followed by the television movie “Behind the Candelabra” (2013), based in part on the life of the late entertainer Liberace? Of course between that retirement and now, he worked on the now ended television series “The Knick” (2014/15) featuring the Clive Owen. When I first heard that the Oscar winning director was making another film I was exceptionally pleased, after the huge success with his ‘Oceans’ movies it seemed fitting for him to revisit the heist genre to re-launch his film-directing career.
This movie also marks the fifth time that Soderbergh has teamed with superstar Channing Tatum, who offers something quite unique for what has become Soderbergh’s way of not only directing, but also the way he shoots, edits and produces his movies. One of the amazing points about Soderbergh is the way in which he makes genre-defying films, that whether or not you can reduce them to a genre, they always break their own molds. “Logan Lucky” (2017) for example is not just a straight heist movie; it has elements of comedy, drama as well as the absurdity of a ridiculous idea, the redneck agenda that encompasses tropes of the Southern States. Not only that but this film is probably the closest that the director has come to brushing up against what the Coen Brothers do so well, amplifying character traits as well as their own myopic actions, much like the fact that “A Serious Man” (2009) was the closest the Coen’s came to creating a Soderbergh film.
“Logan Lucky” concerns a family attempting to reverse a family curse, siblings Jimmy (Channing Tatum), Mellie (Riley Keough), and Clyde Logan (Adam Driver) set out to execute an elaborate robbery during the Coca-Cola 600 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina during Memorial Day weekend.
There are many moving parts to “Logan Lucky”, something it has in common with all the Soderbergh oeuvre; he can assemble killer casts, he shoots his own films (although this is controversial as the DGA do not allow their members to shoot and direct films), edits his own films (these last two under pseudonyms) and he has a view of the business that has always been unique. Also, after directing almost every genre, winning Oscars as well as making hit films and creating a franchise he has nothing to prove to anyone – he is a true auteur as well as one of the few mavericks still working within as well as without the Hollywood studio system. He takes the old adage of making one for ‘them’ and one for ‘you’ by just making great films.
As already mentioned Channing Tatum leads this cast which as you would expect from a Soderbergh film is extremely deep, even two time Oscar winner Hillary Swank only makes a brief experience. What is great to see however, is one of the stars of last years amazing “American Honey” (2016) Riley Keough in a key role alongside Tatum, Adam Driver and Daniel Craig, she is easily holding her own in the scenes they have together, something not easy to do, as they are all playing hyper stylized characters. You are witnessing character flourishes not normally seen from them, particularly from Driver. Someone who I love to see in movies, as well as someone many people actively dislike is Seth MacFarlane almost unrecognizable under make up shows why he is such a comic genius playing a true character, something he should embrace as like in this movie they are the actors that really help sell a film like this, with many quirks.
As you would expect from Soderbergh this is expertly directed, one thing he has proven over the years is that he can direct almost anything, doing so as well as anyone, ably drawing out performances that most would kill for – his talent is never in question. What is interesting is that this film is written by a newcomer, Rebecca Blunt, who believe it or not does not exist – at all; the name is a pseudonym, but nobody knows who for, although there are some suspects, it could be Soderbergh himself, his wife, Jules Asner or even a third party John Henson – both of these last two work on the E! Channel. Whoever wrote it they need not worry, as it is one of the smartest scripts in recent memory, it is up there with Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” (2017). This is almost an anti-Oceans movie, where this one juxtaposes with that trilogy in that everything is clockwork perfect, all the moves are made in advance of every possible decision – its like a visual Rube Goldberg machine, nothing is left to chance. With “Logan Lucky” however everything that could go wrong does, but the lads seem to make it through with some kind of lucky rabbits foot getting them out of trouble – it is hilarious carried off with a great script, even better direction with actors that you have no trouble laughing with as well forgiving their crimes.
What is great about this film is that it is a treat to see in cinemas, the same way Soderbergh’s previous project “The Knick” could only have been made and seen on television. Soderbergh knows exactly what he is doing and what medium works best for whatever project he is working on. This is perhaps why he has returned to film but has not yet ruled out once again returning to the small screen. He has few real contemporaries (maybe Richard Linklater) that can boast a filmography like his, even when he has had a perceived failure time is on his side such as the brilliant “King of the Hill” (1993) or the misunderstood “Kafka” (1991) – but it seems that for the past twenty years we have all gained from having Soderbergh creating his independent as well as studio fare. What I loved about “Logan Lucky” was that I didn’t know going into it what to expect but I knew leaving the cinema how lucky I was to see a master return to the art form he so deservedly should be working in.
I cannot recommend this movie highly enough it has enough of a plot combined with drama, action as well as a heap of all different types of comedy to keep you interested, once you see it i am sure you will agree this is one of the best films of the year so far, it is also great to see it being released in the Summer movie season as it deserves the widest possible audience.
“Logan Lucky” is out now on DVD & Blu-ray.