LOGAN LUCKY Review: 7 out of 10 (Enough Southern Charm to be Criminal)
If a bunch of hillbillies watched the OCEAN'S movies over and over and over again and somehow got inspired to DIY a robbery ...well, you would have LOGAN LUCKY.
LOGAN LUCKY is a new heist film directed, shot and edited by Steven Soderbergh and written by Rebecca Blunt. It features an ensemble cast consisting of Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keough, Daniel Craig, Seth MacFarlane, and Katie Holmes. Soderbergh's ballyhooed retirement as a film director was broken for this film, though he continues to be fairly active in the industry. Here, he treads back over very familiar ground, exploring the heist genre as a comedy, something he has done with the OCEAN'S film series as well as OUT OF SIGHT. But LOGAN LUCKY has just enough Southern flavor and charm to stand out.
The setup is fairly simple. Two brothers Jimmy (Channing Tatum) and Clyde Logan (Adam Driver) who are down and out rednecks living in West Virginia. The two have some previous criminal dealings but are trying to reverse a family curse of bad luck. Recruiting a team that includes Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) along with Joe's idiot brothers Fish and Sam and the Logan's sister Mellie they devise a plan to execute an elaborate robbery during the legendary Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Familiar to a fault, please know that Soderbergh is doing a paint-by-numbers clinic on the heist comedy he has become known for, even if he seems to be painting this time with buckets of moonshine and chicken gravy.
There is a lot of fun to be had here and the film certainly entertains enough to be recommended. NASCAR fans might enjoy it even more with six different drivers who cameo in the film--Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, and Ryan Blaney to name a few. Most of the cast here is having a good time doing a send up of Southern culture that feels like some good natured ribbing. The exception to that here is Seth MacFarlane who is straight up awful as a NASCAR sponsor and spokesman. With a ton of makeup and an awful British accent MacFarlane is far too over-the-top here in a part that, looking back, is completely ancillary to the plot itself and whose character is totally unnecessary. For a director known for his editing chops, maybe Soderbergh didn't have the heart to cut him. There are other forgivable plot contrivances that consistently arise, but since the audience is behind the loveable hayseeds they can be quickly dismissed. The frustrating arc of the heist film that always ends with a montage of "here is how we *REALLY* did the robbery" has become fairly flat since it essentially becomes little more than a magician's prestige. But LOGAN LUCKY is a Southern-fried piece of cinematic fun--a hillbilly heist with enough charm and wit to overcome its lack of originality.