Daniel Craig, Channing Tatum and Adam Driver in Logan Lucky
24 AUGUST 2017 • 10:57 AM
Director: Steven Soderbergh; Starring: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Riley Keogh, Seth MacFarlane, Hilary Swank, Dwight Yoakam, Katherine Waterston, Katie Holmes. 12A cert; 119 mins.
To quote one of the dimmer characters in its attempted speedway robbery, Logan Lucky is a “vagrant fliolation” – namely of the “retirement” from filmmaking Steven Soderbergh announced four years ago. His last feature was Side Effects back in 2013, and he’s turned to TV in the interim, with HBO’s Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra, and two seasons of Cinemax’s period hospital drama The Knick.
Logan Lucky is such a cosy return to the big screen – comfort-zone Soderbergh, you could certainly say – that it makes his absence feel like a drop in the ocean. The whole game plan goes like clockwork. There’s a small fortune to be stolen, a jostling ensemble needed to get together and do it. The hows, the wheres, the whys and the whens are stacked up with perfect dexterity by a show-runner who’s been around the block.
The differences are purely down to setting and personnel. Blue-collar West Virginia, land of recession, nail extensions and child beauty pageants, is worlds away from the jazzy, flash-the-cash coastal milieus of Soderbergh’s Ocean’s franchise. Southern-born himself, he knows how to ring all these changes while making them mean something. Instead of smarm-personified George Clooney, he has corn-fed Channing Tatum running the racket: decent, dignified, but rough around the edges.
Tatum’s Jimmy Logan grabs our attention as a hapless hero – laid off from coal-mining at the start, because his bosses catch wind that he’s walking around with a limp, sustained back in his high-school football days, and don’t fancy the medical bills. He says things like “I looked it up on the google”. And he has a bad relationship with his frosty ex-wife (Katie Holmes), who’s threatening to leave the state with their daughter and retain sole custody.
Jimmy needs a windfall, badly, and his brother – the even-unluckier Clyde (Adam Driver), who lost his left hand during a second tour in Iraq – is quietly willing to come on board. Clyde works in a local dive bar, pouring drinks with his good hand, and philosophising about the Logan family curse: one which doesn’t yet seem to have afflicted their sister Mellie (Riley Keough), a hairdresser and amateur petrolhead they can rely upon for any and all high-speed getaways as the plan gathers pace.
The day of the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway is chosen, because huge footfall from those attending means wads of cash in the racetrack’s vault. Breaking in, though, will need the services of Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), a white-haired, not-to-be-messed-with safe-cracker who is currently serving jail time for his prior misdeeds.