FINGERPRINT RELEASING / BLEECKER STREET (2017)

 

Director: Steven Soderbergh

 

Starring: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keough, Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes, Katherine Waterston, Farrah Mackenzie, Brian Gleeson, Jack Quaid, Dwight Yoakam, Sebastian Stan, Hilary Swank, Daniel Craig

“Take me home now, country roads.”

 

Returning from self-imposed “retirement”, Steven Soderbergh is back in familiar territory with Logan Lucky – or “Ocean’s 7-11”. Where the Ocean’s movies deal with high-flyers in suits sipping Martinis, here we have good ole boys drinking whiskey and rye. The pride of West Virginia is out in full force, led by the simple yet dedicated Logan brothers, Jimmy (Tatum) and Clyde (Driver). There’s a heist to be done, money to be made and a school recital to attend.

 

It’s all good fun.

Recently let go from his construction job due to ‘liability issues’ (a slight limp), Jimmy Logan is down on his luck. He’s jobless and finds out his ex-wife, Bobbie Jo (Holmes), intends to move to Lynchburg with their daughter Sadie (Mackenzie) which will make it difficult for him to see her. Frustrated and angry, he visits the Duck Tape – a local bar run by his brother Clyde, a war veteran with a prosthetic hand. After a brawl with a British tycoon, Max Chilblain (MacFarlane), the brothers convene to discuss their next steps – but Jimmy has it all planned out, they are going to steal the money from an upcoming minor Speedway event in Charlotte. Jimmy knows the route the money takes, through pneumatic tubes, as he was working to plug a sinkhole at the track before he was laid off. Simple. However, with an apparent family curse to reverse, they will need some help if they are to succeed.

 

Roping their hotshot sister Mellie (Keough) in as their getaway driver, the brothers head to the local prison to visit Joe Bang (Craig), a renowned explosives expert and vault cracker, to fill him in on the plan – they’re going to break him out, commit the heist and get him back before anyone notices. Joe’s brothers, Sam (Gleeson) and Fish (Quaid), are roped in and the gang is ready. There’s one minor issue, construction is due to be completed a week early, meaning the heist will have to be amended and staged during the Coca-Cola 600 race on Memorial Day – the busiest race of the year.

 

Logan Lucky isn’t a simple riff on the Ocean’s franchise, the comparisons really stop with the director. The movie is mired in a near-Southern delight – child pageants, hillbillies, cowboy hats, trucks galore and, of course, John Denver (making his fourth movie ‘appearance’ of 2017 after Alien: Covenant , Free Fire and Okja). The movie deals with salt-of-the-earth types – family men, war veterans and beauty stylists etc. – and has a more ‘human’ approach to the narrative. There’s no great character development, but you find out what you need to – Clyde is a war vet with one hand missing, Jimmy is a once promising American football player who will do anything for his daughter - the Logan family share a strong, yet implosive, bond. Joe Bang is an “in-car-cer-at-ed” explosives expert and his brothers are computer geniuses because they know “all the Twitters”, it’s as simple as that.

 

All boasting thick, wonderful Southern accents, Tatum, Driver and Craig are fantastic together and individually. The accents themselves lend to the humour, and one of the movies better jokes is the ridiculous notion that Tatum and Driver could be brothers. Driver’s near deadpan approach is priceless, but Craig is the stand-out with a totally against-type performance. It’s great fun to watch actors play against their own grain - when they pull it off, it can be joyful to watch and Logan Lucky succeeds with aplomb.

 

The heist plan itself is ridiculous in its intricacy, however we all know that only adds to the fun and required tension. Will the gang pull off their biggest heist? The movie conspires against them and the writing required to get them out of situations is entertaining and well done. The movie is not without its flaws, however. There are noticeable pacing issues in amongst the fine editing, the movie racing in with a two-hour runtime that could possibly have been shaved down slightly. Characters are underutilised or not fleshed out - Swank and Waterston are criminally underused and don’t really add anything to the story, other than for Waterston to point out the flaws in the US medical system. Swank prowls the screen with a snarl and will surely be utilised in any potential sequel. There is also a clear message that capitalism will always win out in the end – NASCAR seems to be used as an allegory for the wider picture.

 

There’s nothing particularly original to be found here, but that’s not what Soderbergh is aiming for. This is a fun, heist caper that seemingly knows what it is and runs with it. There is some great, fun moments and comedy throughout (especially the ‘bear in the woods’ scene) and the movie ends up being pretty feel-good, albeit one with an ambiguous ending.

 

People may say the Logan brothers are simple, but their movie is great.

September 11th 2017

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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