One of the main reasons that I began writing movie reviews is to bring attention to good, entertaining flicks that might be flying under your radar. Such is the case with Steven Soderbergh's latest heist flick LOGAN LUCKY. This is an entertaining movie that moves quickly and has much more under the surface than you might first think.
Strongly and ably directed by Soderbergh, LOGAN LUCKY tells the story of the "cursed" Logan family of West Virginia (Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and Riley Keough) who are facing tough times. The solution to their problem? Rob the vault at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. They enlist the Bang brothers (Jack Quaid, Brian Gleeson and a surprisingly, effectively funny Daniel Craig). One problem there, Craig's character is currently in jail.
Can this group of seemingly dimwitted West Virginians pull off the caper? That's the fun of this movie and it's territory that Soderbergh has covered before with the OCEAN'S 11 films (there is even a callback in this flick to those movies when someone calls the robbery OCEAN'S 7/11) and he covers this territory well. The caper is clever, yet simple. Soderbergh (or, rather, writer Rebecca Blunt - which is believed to be a pseudonym for someone else) does a clever job of having Tatum's character keep a list of 10 things to think about during a robbery and the script follows these rules, which makes things easy to follow.
But, of course, in these types of films, it is the characters that make (or break) things and Soderbergh has assembled a a crew that is very enjoyable to watch starting with Channing Tatum (MAGIC MIKE) as Jimmy Logan, a former high school and college football "legend" (at least in West Virginia) who is having trouble making ends meet as a result of a career ending knee injury. Tatum does a nice job of showing us a thoughtful, rounded human being under the veneer of a West Virginia "hick". He is joined by his one-armed brother, Adam Driver, (Kylo Ren in STAR WARS) in another interesting and watchable performance and their sister, Mellie (Riley Keough, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD) a performer who I knew little about before this film, but is one that I will be keeping an eye on going forward.
The film picks up energy with the introduction of the Bang brothers. Dim-witted (and I do mean dim-witted) Fish and Sam Bang (an unrecognizable Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson, son of Brendan) - who gave me 2 or 3 strong, burst out-loud laughs and their older brother, explosives expert Joe Bang. This was the best, most surprising part - Joe Bang is played with a continual twinkle in his eye by James Bond himself, Daniel Craig. You can see the danger in his eyes and movements but you can also detect a layer of intelligence in his portrayal, all the while keeping the "wink" in his eye that let's you know that he (and we) are having fun. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Dwight Yoakim's turn as the head of the prison where Joe Bang is incarcerated. I want to see a film of Yoakim running this prison. There is so much story there to mine.
The film isn't perfect - there is a subplot involving a NASCAR driver (Sebastian Stan - Bucky in the AVENGERS films) and his owner (a miscast Seth McFarlane) that goes nowhere and Katherine Waterston is wasted in the "love interest for Tatum" role, but all-in-all, I had a good time at this film and I think you will, too.
It's the perfect film for a rainy Saturday afternoon, which is what most of Minnesota (and Texas!) will be having today.
Letter Grade B+
8 (out of 10) stars and you can take that to the Bank (ofMarquis)hat to the Bank (ofMarquis)