Movie Review: Logan Lucky

Logan Lucky
(Loganovi parťáci)
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
With Channing Tatum, Daniel Craig, Adam Driver, Katie Holmes, Seth MacFarlane, Riley Keough, Hilary Swank, Katherine Waterston, Dwight Yoakam

Director Steven Soderbergh has come out of retirement to make another caper film. Logan Lucky takes place in the American South mostly among working class people, and is meant to be a counterpoint to Soderbergh's Ocean's Eleven trilogy of caper films in glamorous settings.

To the film's credit, it relies much more on characters than on special effects. The title refers to the Logan family having nothing but bad luck, a topic that obsesses bartender Clyde Logan (played by Adam Driver). He lost an arm in the Iraq War and mixes drinks one-handed. His brother, Jimmy (Channing Tatum) was destined to be a football star, but wrecked his knee. He works odd jobs like construction. Their sister, Mellie (Riley Keough), works as a hairdresser and seems to have escaped the curse.

Jimmy tries to get by but never can get ahead. He loves his young daughter, Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie),who takes part in beauty pageants, but doesn't have enough money to help out like he wants to. His ex-wife, Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes) has remarried to a well-off car salesman Moody Chapman (David Denman), and Jimmy is a bit ashamed of his situation.

It's no secret from the advertisements that the plot involves a big robbery at a racetrack. The brothers bring in Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), an explosives expert who has one problem — he is already in prison.

That is the basic setup for the complex, mostly nonviolent robbery.

There used to be genre of films set in the South, with fast cars, good ol' boys, stupid police and scantily clad women. Some of those elements come into play in Logan Lucky, but have been updated. The humor in the film isn't demeaning toward its characters, and the tired stereotypes have been set aside.

The fast cars are still there, but the characters have become a bit more realistic depictions of people dealing with everyday life. The police, though, remain a step behind.

A few quirky characters have been thrown into the mix, such as Seth MacFarlane as Max Chilblain, an arrogant British energy-drink promoter. Country music star Dwight Yoakam, almost unrecognizable, plays a prison warden who tries to be tough.

Late in the film, Hilary Swank turns up as an investigator. She has largely been missing from the screen for the last few years. Her role could have been larger, but it is a welcome return for a talented actress.

Daniel Craig is best-known to people as the current James Bond, and he creates a completely different character as Joe Bang, a tattooed felon with a fairly convincing Southern accent. His success as in the spy series, though, is a drawback as many people will see him as James Bond slumming it in Southern drag.

The film hints that he might be back in a sequel, as his on-screen credit is “introducing Daniel Craig as Joe Bang.”

Channing Tatum is perfect for his role as the working class man trying to get ahead. He elicits a lot of sympathy from the audience through his efforts to maintain his relationship with his daughter, and help out his brother.

Adam Driver as the brother gives a bit of a laid back performance, reluctantly going along for the ride. At lest he doesn't spoil the film by overacting.

Riley Keough is the granddaughter of Elvis Presley. She has been in films like American Honey and is starting to build a good career. She brings a bit a class to the character of a hairdresser.

A bit of miss, though, is Seth McFarlane as the energy drink promoter. He never achieves the laughs his character is supposed to get. He needed to do more than just put on a British accent.

The story itself also lags in a few places. The robbery scenes don't have that clockwork precision that really helps to push caper films over the top. And parts are a bit confusing, even after some explanations.It is good though, to have Steven Soderbergh back in the director's chair and hopefully he will continue. There are enough good elements in Logan Lucky to make it worth seeing, and it score points for its sympathetic depictions of lower-class people who are usually cruelly lampooned on screen, and for resolving the story without resorting to a lot of CGI effects during the final scenes.

There is a bit of a joke at the very end of the credits, for those who want to stay for it.

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