Having proven he knows how to handle the heist movie with his Ocean’s Trilogy, director Steven Soderbergh makes his return to a genre that has become all too stale in recent times with Logan Lucky, a film that centres around two hillbilly brothers from North Carolina who decide to pull off a heist during a major NASCAR race. The resulting film proves to be the crime caper cinema goers have been hoped for.
Heist movies have always centred around a group of established, intelligent, attractive men living enviable, stylish lifestyles. Logan Lucky chooses to mix things up, instead focusing on southern simpleton rednecks. It trades the high-class casinos of Las Vegas and banks of New York for the American south and NASCAR. Instead of using high tech gadgets, the heist is carried out using things from the DIY store. It is this aspect that makes Logan Lucky feel so refreshing. Like Baby Driver, the film takes a relatively ‘by the books’ film premise and introduces an interesting, new twist to it.
Right out the gate, the film jumps straight into the characters. Soderbergh chooses to begin by giving the viewer an understanding of the film’s protagonists (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver), presenting an insight into their personality and what drives them. Writer Rebecca Blunt does an excellent job in creating fascinating, distinct characters who manage to be endearing whilst also being exaggerated caricatures of redneck Americans. Blunt manages to balance humour built around stereotypes and character stupidities whilst maintaining empathy towards the leads. The dialogue is also worth mentioning — character interactions feel natural but engaging with the effortless inter-weaving of clever humour that rarely feels forced. All that said, there are certain aspects of the script which do not feel as well fleshed out. There are supporting characters, like Hillary Swank’s FBI agent, which feel like they have the potential be interesting but end up just being under-developed and awkward. These characters were clearly an afterthought in the script.
All the actors in the film do an excellent job. Tatum and Driver bring the quirks of their characters to life and are simply great to watch. Completed by Riley Keough, the Logan family dynamic feels genuine and watching them interact feels personal. The real standout, however, is Daniel Craig. Continuing to show us that he is more than just Bond, Craig really makes his character pop. Walking a tight rope between threatening and admirable, it is through his character’s subtle mannerisms that Craig brings Joe Bang to life, stealing every scene. If there was one person who doesn’t quite leave an impression, it would be Seth MacFarlane. While doing a convincing enough English accent, MacFarlane seems to rely far too much on being outlandish and over the top without any real subtlety.
Soderbergh’s directing is slick and not overly stylised, instead choosing to make the camera and its movement remain focused on the great acting on show. Also particularly effective in drawing the viewer into the different setting is Soderbergh’s decision to give more time to develop each new environment through establishing shots. This approach humanises the locations, making them feel more alive and real. It is something that is simple in execution but does a lot to build what feels like a very alien world in the heist genre. As for pacing, Soderbergh keeps things the flow consistent and reveals just enough that the viewer can follow what is happening whilst still managing to throw in the occasional surprise.
Logan Lucky is not a perfect film. The actual heist is structurally not much different from Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Trilogy and other similar films of the genre, and there are characters present that feel like they serve no real purpose to the story. But, while it might not be a game changer or anything truly amazing, Logan Lucky is a great example of how worn out genres can be given new life by mixing up common tropes. Thanks to a solid script by Rebecca Blunt and great performances, Logan Lucky is a greatly enjoyable popcorn movie that will not leave you disappointed.
Image: Studio Canal