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CINEMASCOPE: SODERBERGH'S FUN RETURN

September 01, 2017
Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig

Steven Soderbergh is back, proving that directors never really stay retired. After giving up filmmaking in 2013 to concentrate on personal projects and TV, the critically acclaimed director of work such as Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989), Erin Brockovich (2000) and Traffic (2000) brings us the NASCAR heist/comedy Logan Lucky. But for those hoping for something deeper like his earlier work may be left a little disappointed, for this charming thriller is more in the vein of his later three box office hits: Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Ocean’s Twelve (2003) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007). In fact, you could say that Logan Lucky is something of an Ocean’s film in a rooting-tooting, yee-haw yelling, rural American car-racing skin.

If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, Logan Lucky might still be worth your time though. I wasn’t particularly fond of any of the Ocean’s films, but enjoyed watching this. This is primarily because the characterisation, humour and action had enough gas to keep me hooked.

Like the Ocean’s films, Logan Lucky features an ensemble cast, but unlike those films carries a more colourful list of characters. In the driver’s seat you have Jimmy (Channing Tatum) and Clyde Logan (Adam Driver), two brothers that at first come across as a bit slow, but prove to be smart enough to pull off a complicated heist. Jimmy is an ex-football star whose career was cut short by injury and Clyde is an Iraq War veteran whose career was, well, cut short by injury.

Logan Lucky is a rooting-tooting, yee-haw yelling, entertaining ride

You have Joe Bang, an explosives expert played in a performance by Daniel Craig that suggests that the James Bond actor had a ball playing the role. You also have Bobbie Jo, Jimmy’s ex, played in a convincing turn by Katie Holmes, as well as FBI Agent Sarah Grayson (Hilary Swank), the law enforcement official tailing our main characters. Adding further to the humour is the creator and the voice of most Family Guy characters, Seth MacFarlane, as a British businessman with a rather questionable accent.

The plot is easy to follow. Already feeling upset after being fired from his blue-collar job, Jimmy is unhappy to learn that Bobby and her rich husband are moving away with Jimmy’s daughter to another city, which means that he’ll find it tougher to visit her with his limited resources. Later, Jimmy presents a plan to Clyde to steal money from the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race. In order to pull off their plan though, they need to recruit someone who happens to be in prison, which leads to a prison break before the start of other shenanigans.

Logan Lucky is wonderful to look at with stylish camerawork and snappy editing that adds to both the kinetic energy of the film and the charming nature of the narrative. The film was shot by Peter Andrews and edited by Mary Ann Bernard, which as we all know are pseudonyms for Steven Soderbergh who, of course, happens to be one of the most skilled cinematographers and editors in the business. The endearing script was written by first-time writer Rebecca Blunt which, believe it or not, is rumoured to be a new pseudonym for the filmmaker.

In typical Soderbergh fashion, Logan Lucky is wonderful to look at with stylish camerawork and snappy editing that adds to both the kinetic energy of the film and the charming nature of the narrative. Logan Lucky was shot by Peter Andrews and edited by Mary Ann Bernard, which as we all know are pseudonyms for Steven Soderbergh who, of course, happens to be one of the most skilled cinematographers and editors in the business. The endearing script was written by first-time writer Rebecca Blunt which, believe it or not, is rumoured to be a new pseudonym for the filmmaker.

Aside from its caper goodness, Logan Lucky also features some subtle commentary on the state of the American South. While this has been praised by many other reviewers, I wasn’t particularly impressed with this aspect of the film, though your mileage may vary. But at the very least, you are in for an entertaining ride.

Rated PG-13 for language and some crude comments

Published in Dawn, ICON, September 1st, 2017