Sunday 9 September 2018

Movie Review: Logan Lucky (2017)

A redneck heist movie, Logan Lucky offers some laughs but is too clunky and cluttered to succeed.

In North Carolina, Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) is fired from his construction job at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, but not before hatching up a robbery plan targeting the subsurface cash-carrying pneumatic tubes. Jimmy teams up with his brother Clyde (Adam Driver), a bar owner who lost an arm in the Iraq war, and they recruit imprisoned safecracker Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) and his two dimwit brothers Sam (Brian Gleeson) and Fish (Jack Quaid).

Clyde intentionally gets himself imprisoned in the same facility as Joe, and they spark a mini-riot as a diversion while they temporarily break out of jail and join Jimmy and the others under the Speedway on the day of the Coca Cola 600. Not much seems to go according to plan, and it's up to FBI agent Sarah Grayson (Hilary Swank) to try to clean up the post-heist mess.

Director Steven Soderbergh came out of a short-lived retirement to direct Logan Lucky, and maybe he need not have bothered. A lowbrow Ocean's Eleven set amongst the ignoramus set, it's never clear if the film is making fun of or celebrating its protagonists, and in any case, it barely matters. While there may have been some merit in exploring unsophisticated thievery among the unwashed, the film is disjointed, uneven, and overstuffed with incidental secondary and tertiary characters.

In addition to Jimmy, Clyde, Joe, Sam and Fish, Mellie (Riley Keough) is the sister of Jimmy and Clyde; Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes) is Jimmy's ex-wife, and Moody (David Denman) is her current husband; Max (Seth MacFarlane) is an insufferable Nascar team owner; Dayton (Sebastian Stan) believes himself to be a finely tuned driver, and Dwight Yoakam plays prison warden Burns. All are barely developed characters poking in and out of the movie at regular intervals, tripping over each other and contributing little.

Channing Tatum and Adam Driver do their best to elevate the material, and the exchanges between the brothers, with Driver particularly effective as the sombre sibling fully convinced a curse hangs over the Logans, is the best thing going for the film.

Otherwise, the heist logistics and details are never explained, Soderbergh creating narrative chaos by clarifying nothing. Once some light is shed on what everyone was running around doing, the film's logic, already strained, falls apart, the heist details too far-fetched and ambitious for any one of the nitwits on display to cobble together.

Rarely funny and never exciting nor clever, Logan Lucky sputters off the start line, does one slow lap and retires into the pits.

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