Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Rebecca Blunt
Starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keough, Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes, Katherine Waterston, Sebastian Stan, Hilary Swank & Daniel Craig Film Review by Dean Pettipher
August has been and will most likely continue to be considered as the worst month of 2017 for mainstream cinema. Certainly, in comparison to her fellow months that make up the summer season, August has, so far, not seen a movie that will stay with many audiences beyond the first twenty-four hours after its initial viewing. June burned majestically bright, thanks to Wonder Woman (2017). July scorched defiantly triumphant, courtesy of Dunkirk (2017). August has failed to exceed those high temperatures, having featured solid but ultimately forgettable adventures like The Dark Tower (2017). Of course, there was A Ghost Story (2017), which, while very popular with the critics, was for some reason not shown very widely across the main cinema chains that appeal principally to the mass market of more causal movie fans. Fortunes may soon change, however, ostensibly because of the critically-acclaimed drama entitled Detroit (2017). Moreover, the final days of the season may be sugared that much more at the last minute because of two other movies that are also set for release nationally across the United Kingdom towards the end of August. One of these pictures is American Made (2017), which appears to be to a funny action tale with Tom Cruise that is based on a fascinating true story. The other film that may contribute towards an overall contentment with the summer is Logan Lucky (2017). Steven Soderbergh returns, racing confidently over and above the standard marking true cinematic excellence with a story that combines comedy, crime and drama in a manner that instils an ultimately firm sentiment of satisfaction with the picture and indeed the summer as well. Alongside his directorial efforts in television, such as The Knick (2014-2015), in addition to his work helming movies like Magic Mike (2012) and Erin Brockovich (2000), Soderbergh proves yet again that he is one of the most versatile directors working in Hollywood today. Employing many strategies that worked brilliantly for his Ocean’s Trilogy (2001-2007), including an overwhelmingly star-studded cast with enviable chemistry together, witty humour littered throughout the script and a fairly fast-paced plot centred on a heist, he brings the infectious warmth of the Deep South to the silver screen. Accordingly, Soderbergh highlights that he should definitely not retire anytime soon.
Soderbergh inspires his band of players in its entirety to drastically raise the game artistically. Nonetheless, Daniel Craig and Adam Driver in particular deserve a great deal of praise for the performances. Both actors break free of the definitive movie roles that they currently occupy, James Bond and Kylo Ren respectively. While clearly recognisable, Craig employs a higher pitch and a more animated tone in his voice elegantly and consistently. Combining this deviation with his deeper, more monotonous vocal expression that audiences know and love from his personal James Bond series (2006-Present) with his new beach-blonde hair and his more erratic body movements allows Craig to successfully bring one of the most charismatic and entertaining characters of the film to life. Driver also proves that he can skilfully adapt to different galaxies. He portrays the heroic character of a former soldier with a personality that is so distinct from the one forged for the villain of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) and yet this bartender features a striking resemblance to the Sith Warrior, since Driver conveys deep-seated vulnerability behind a seemingly tough exterior that audiences can identify in many of his performances.
The shady ride in pursuit of protagonist prosperity is made even more joyous by Seth MacFarlane, who is recognisable only by the sound his voice while he impressively portrays a pompous British race car driver. MacFarlane adds yet another performance to his extremely eclectic repertoire epitomised by Family Guy (1998-2018). Channing Tatum leads the cast with yet another charming performance that exemplifies why he is one of the busiest actors working in Hollywood at present, helped in no small part in this movie by his impressive humanisation through a story thread with his daughter that explores themes inspired by American beauty pageants for young girls. Such themes were best illustrated by Little Miss Sunshine (2006). While not at the forefront of Logan Lucky, they serve as an integral part of a bigger picture concerned with family that feels poignant enough to encourage audiences to care about Tatum’s struggles at least a little bit. Riley Keough’s glowing presence and no-nonsense performance suggests that she would be a perfect Bond Girl, if 007’s next mission ever took him stateside. Finally, Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson play a comic duo whose scenes could be watched over and over again and still found very funny because of their sharp timing especially, albeit those viewers of a more sensitive disposition might become alarmed at the apparent embrace of controversial stereotypes.
The writing is great on the whole, with numerous instances of humour that oftentimes draw upon the popular culture of today. While not hilarious, there are at least a couple of jokes that are relatable enough to keep audiences giggling to themselves for a while after their graceful deployment. A few sinkholes appear in the story not because of what is written but because of what is not written. A host of characters could have had a lot more backstory sprinkled throughout the script to encourage audiences to care even more about them and their respective goals. Furthermore, there are one or two superb moments of humour and tension in wonderful combination. One only wishes that there had been even more of that sort of scene, particularly towards the end of the picture when the impending danger does not really feel that threatening. There is, fortunately, enough of the threat to inspire some mild relief following the climax and much of the aftermath.
Logan Lucky is a very good movie, which, like the Ocean’s films, could enjoy a good sequel or two in the future, despite having provided enough closure for at least one sweetly entertaining ride, as well as enough pleasure to help audiences end the latter half of the summer on an unquestionably positive final lap.