VOD film review: Logan Lucky
Scenes featuring Daniel Craig8
Ivan | On 26, Dec 2017
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Riley Keough
Every time you think Steven Soderbergh’s out, he pulls himself back in. Logan Lucky reminds us that it’s never something to complain about: even after a break to make The Knick, The Girlfriend Experience and Behind the Candelabra, the director has lost none of his big screen savvy.
Reuniting with Magic Mike’s Channing Tatum for a crime thriller, it’s only natural that they should opt for a getting-the-gang-together heist flick, one that is full of all the ragtag robbers and bizarre sidekicks you could hope for. Tatum plays Jimmy Logan, a labourer fired from a coal-mining company because they spot his limp and decide they can’t afford the medical insurance. It’s the kind of blow by an uncaring system that marks this heist movie as worlds away from the ostentatious riches of Ocean’s Eleven – and Tatum plays his hero with a hangdog, downbeat air, a guy who’s trying to do the best by his daughter, but whose failings frustrate his ex-wife (Katie Holmes). That almost melancholic vibe continues with his brother, Clyde (Adam Driver), a bar owner who lost his left forearm during a tour in Iraq. Don’t let the title fool you: neither of them are lucky. Even their code for planning something illegal – cauliflower – is laughably rubbish.
And plan they do. The idea? To raid the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race at the local Speedway, by sabotaging the tubes all the money capsules fly through. It’s a wonderfully off-the-wall idea, which is fittingly equal parts daft and clever – and they recruit a suitably wacky ensemble to pull it off, including Jimmy’s hairdresser sister (the delightful rising star that is Riley Keough, of Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience) and Daniel Craig as prison convict Joe Bang. The whole cast are great value, with Driver and Tatum boasting brilliantly indignant, affectionate chemistry, but Craig is the stand-out. Stealing whole scenes with an unhinged, unrecognisable performance, he swaggers through prison with a thick hillbilly accent, before pausing mid-bomb-making to explain science on a wall with formulae scribbled in chalk.
There’s an enjoyably low-tech style to the way their scheme comes about, not quite polished and never professional. Rebecca Blunt’s script sometimes embraces that too much, with brief appearances from Seth MacFarlane, Katherine Waterston and Hilary Swank highlighting the less polished parts of the plotting. But any rough edges are smoothed out by something far more entertaining: a genuine warmth towards its characters, which avoids using any of the working class rednecks for cheap laughs and swaps the traditional action-packed climax for a lovely scene involving John Denver’s Country Roads. Throughout, Soderbergh keeps the pace slick and efficient, but the story’s good nature chimes with his own breezy, cheerful filmmaking – several years after retiring, Blunt’s screenplay convinced the director to return. Soderbergh is back, not because he has to be, but because he wants to, and that passion shines through in every frame. A bleach-blonde Daniel Craig, a one-armed barman, a believably messed-up sibling bond, and a great director enjoying himself? What’s not to like?