Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes
Logan Lucky, the heist comedy that marks Steven Soderbergh’s directorial return from his supposed retirement in 2013, is a film with not a trace of ostentation. Unlike Soderbergh’s earlier Ocean’s Eleven, which serves as an inevitable comparison, Logan Lucky is neither sleek nor sophisticated. The Charlotte Motor Speedway, the target of the proposed heist, lends only the slightest hint of glamour to the setting: a deep-dive into small town America. Moreover, the ‘masterminds’ behind the heist are all blue collar down-and-outs with very few resources and even fewer brains, from the eponymous Logan brothers – a recently fired, failed college football star and an ex-military, one-armed bartender (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver, respectively) – to the jail-bound explosives expert Joe Bang (an unconventional, bleach-haired turn from Daniel Craig).
A young girl dangles her legs from the porch of a mobile home. Her dad is telling her a story whilst he works on an old pickup truck, pausing once in awhile to request a tool in a strong southern drawl, which she diligently retrieves from his toolbag. In the background, a country song is playing on the radio. From its opening, Logan Lucky’s perspective is clear: it is a perspective firmly rooted in working class America, and this is the driving force behind both its action and its comedy.
This kind of stuff don’t happen to normal folk.
It is these characters, with their sense of community and do-it-yourself mentality that make the plot of Logan Lucky so appealing, however. The robbery, which accidentally takes place during the much-anticipated Coca-Cola 600 race, relies on a bizarre combination of gummy bears, cockroaches, and self-induced vomiting, poking fun at the high-tech gadgets and acrobatics specialists in typical heist movies.
This mentality was also reflected in the production of the film, with Soderbergh eschewing studio funding to test a new model with his own production company, Fingerprint. This allowed him to maintain creative control over the project and it certainly doesn’t look any the worse for it, with its all-star cast (also featuring Riley Keough as the Logan’s sister and Seth MacFarlane as a detestably arrogant Brit) and striking visuals, especially on the speedway.
I am in-car-ce-ra-ted.
Admittedly, the characters may appear to be little more than simplified ‘hillbilly’ caricatures – heavy accents and an exaggerated script (penned by the elusive Rebecca Blunt, speculated to be Soderbergh himself) lend an added comedy throughout – however, they also display a tenderness that places them beyond mere stereotypes. Occasionally, this tenderness does feel a little manufactured – particularly in scenes between Tatum’s Jimmy Logan and his daughter, an aspiring beauty queen – but on the whole it inspires a great deal of empathy – no small feat in a society with a great deal of cynicism towards the American ‘Bible Belt’ and its associations under the administration of a certain orange individual.
Overall, Logan Lucky is a fun, fast-paced story about making do with what you have and following your dreams, no matter how unconventional and outside of the law they may be. With its downtrodden heroes and small-town community values, perhaps it was also meant as an incisive social commentary, showcasing the disenfranchised perspective of the American lower classes. Perhaps I’m just reading too much into it.