Logan Lucky (2017)
Release Date: August 18th, 2017 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Steven Soderbergh Actors: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, Farrah Mackenzie, Seth MacFarlane, Daniel Craig, Jack Quaid, Brian Gleeson, Katherine Waterston
ourneying between Boone County, West Virginia and Charlotte, North Carolina, Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) struggles to keep two jobs and the admiration of his young daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie). He also contends with his ex-wife’s (Katie Holmes) full custody status and the extreme financial successes of her new husband (David Denman). When Jimmy is fired from his construction gig for limping (a preexisting condition that poses liability issues), he’s had enough of mediocrity. It’s time to plan a bank heist.
Although he once had potential as an NFL star, Jimmy resorts to his backup plan: a sheet of paper on the wall of his trailer that itemizes the steps necessary for the perfect heist. These notes don’t actually include detailed information; rather, they state vague things along the lines of “Don’t get greedy” and “Prepare for something to go wrong.” This plays into one of the immediate problems with “Logan Lucky.” The primary roles are stereotypes of poor, trashy, bumbling rednecks. Yet their plan involves expert timing, a bit of science, and very specific knowledge of a great many things – from the behaviors of a warden and the protocols of security guards to the procedures for fire drills and credit card machine outages.
Jimmy’s array of sordid accomplices further exacerbates the notion that this mangy lot couldn’t pull off light shoplifting, let alone a complex heist. Clyde (Adam Driver) is his one-armed brother; Mellie (Riley Keough) is their hairdresser sister; Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) is an incarcerated safecracker; and Fish (Jack Quaid) and Sam (Brian Gleeson) are undependable malefactors who have turned to higher moral purposes. And all together, they’re hopelessly inept perpetrators, full of ridiculous concerns and irrelevant preoccupations.
“You Logans must be as simpleminded as people say.” And yet, they manage some exceptional feats of cleverness. Orchestrating their goal – the theft of the Charlotte Motor Speedway’s cash vault – complete with airtight alibis, the massive coordination of various employees and a prison’s complement of inmates, and getaway plans that can even dupe the Feds is an accomplishment for true masterminds. Perpetually contrasting this notion, however, is a series of comic mishaps and mixups that are occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, but mostly generic (paralleling qualities are markedly pronounced with the mention of “focus, endurance, and discipline” by an athlete competing at the racetrack). At the start, mirth is expected from a bar fight, arson, assault, and plenty of traded insults. And later, the humor is based on idiocy by the main protagonists, followed by greater acts of imbecility by the exponentially stupider associates. Plus, everyone affects loudly exaggerated accents. “I looked it up on The Google.”
It’s fitting that “Logan Lucky” is directed by Steven Soderbergh, the man behind “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Ocean’s Twelve,” and “Ocean’s Thirteen,” since this latest endeavor is a completely opposite viewpoint on crime comedy. All the glamor of hi-tech, highly-funded, sharply-dressed conmen has been stripped away to reveal uneducated, prospectless, and grimy thieves plotting a robbery without the luxury of futuristic gadgetry or limitless petty cash. But this change of pace for Soderbergh isn’t enough to distance “Logan Lucky” from recent, comparable heist pictures replete with crackbrained characters and absurd antics – such as “Masterminds,” “Pain & Gain,” and “The Ladykillers.”
Additional faults reside in the pacing. Character development drags on with the intention that viewers care about the Logans, but their adversity is never severe enough to require the extra minutes with the precocious daughter or the moments of bonding between the brothers. Plus, there are far too many unnecessary roles, including a love interest (Katherine Waterston), a bank employee (Ann Mahoney), a mouthy spokesman (Seth MacFarlane), a racecar driver (Sebastian Stan), and even FBI agents (Hilary Swank and Macon Blair, in what amounts to little more than cameos). For the sake of slapstick and extra laughs, there are also too many last-minute complications, coupled with the dramatic coincidence that the heist is scheduled on the same day as Sadie’s beauty pageant, for which she’s been training all throughout the film. And, finally, the ultimate payoff arrives in the form of flashbacks to let the audience in on all the withheld information – a risky maneuver, considering that this tends to either insult intelligences or simply befuddle. As the closing credits loom, “Logan Lucky” creates the feeling that it would have been far more entertaining if the line “Based on a true story” had opened the picture; perhaps it’s one of the few “truth is stranger than fiction” premises that suffers because it doesn’t insist that it was inspired by real events. It is, in fact, just made up.
– Mike Massie