Hot Take: You have to wonder if Steven Soderbergh came out of retirement because he knew how easy it would be to make a redneck version of Ocean’s Eleven? It’s not bad but it’s not great either.
If I were in a bad mood when I walked into Logan Lucky, I would have found plenty to hate on. I’m of the opinion that Steven Soderbergh’s return from a self-imposed hiatus is highly effected by what floor your mood elevator is on. That happens sometimes with mediocre films. The formulaic Logan Lucky has plenty of delightful and entertaining scenes to help someone justify calling it a good film but there’s a number of less than adequate moments that anyone wanting to slam it can lean on, too.
Logan Lucky is about the Logan brothers (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) who plan a robbery of the Charlotte Motor Speedway. If you watch it and start wondering if you’ve seen it before, it’s because you have, in all practicality, if you’ve seen any of the Ocean’s trilogy. The only difference here is a kitschy hillbilly accent prevalent throughout the flick. Apparently, the Logan brothers are from a snakebitten lineage and trying to reverse the curse. Jimmy (Tatum) was going to be a football star until he hurt his leg. Clyde (Driver) lost his hand during a tour of duty in the Middle East just days away from coming home. As they devise their plan to rob the vault at the Motor Speedway, others are needed to help execute. They enlist the incarcerated Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) who requests that his brothers, Sam and Fish (Brian Gleeson and Jack Quaid) be a part of the plan. The Logans also use their sister Mellie (Riley Keough), a prison inmate and another worker at the speedway to all play a part in executing the heist. It’s not quite 11 but it’s pretty close.
Since we’ve seen it before, it’s nearly impossible not to compare and that’s where Logan Lucky comes up short. It doesn’t quite have the charm of Ocean’s Eleven or feel as smart. Then again, we’re talking about a robbery planned by two bumpkins to take place during a NASCAR event. So, maybe that’s fitting. Wherever the film differs from Ocean’s Eleven, there is a well placed joke to remind us of that. Even in the aftermath of the crime, when the media is shown discussing the heist, they call it Ocean’s 7-11. The movie knows how similar it is to Soderbergh’s previous work that it throws in the cheap joke to get a laugh. Written by Rebecca Blunt, we’d love to confirm how much of this was on purpose but no one has ever met the writer. Rumors are flying that it’s Soderbergh or his wife Jules Asner.
If you have an affinity for the Ocean’s trilogy and dig Soderbergh’s style, Logan Lucky is a perfectly adequate viewing experience. However, if, by Ocean’s Thirteen, you felt a little weary of it all or didn’t like the films in the first place, you might want to steer clear of this one. Unless you chalk up a bunch of Southern accents as innovation, it’s hard to find anything new or overly nuanced here. Personally, I enjoyed it but then again, I fit the criteria laid out above for optimal viewing.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- The Father/Daughter Relationship
One of the film’s subplots takes place between Tatum’s Jimmy and his daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie). In between plotting a robbery, Jimmy finds time to support his daughter in her quest to become Miss Pretty West Virginia. The scenes around the pageant feel a little bit like a disconnected version of Little Miss Sunshine but the relationship between Jimmy and Sadie feels genuine and sweet.
- Daniel Craig
As Joe Bang, Craig steals every scene he’s in and not just because he has a platinum blonde ‘do. How exactly do you keep your hair platinum blonde while in prison?
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Seth MacFarlane
There was a point in the genesis of Logan Lucky where MacFarlane had a starring role in the film. Over time, he was relegated to a supporting role as Max Chilblain, the ego-driven owner of To The Max Energy who crosses paths with the Logan brothers a few times. Not only does it not make much sense that they keep crossing paths, MacFarlane is less than enthralling in the role.