Logan Lucky is about a group of criminals that seem dumb on the surface, but turn out to be smarter than they appear. Likewise, the film itself is much smarter than the ads might have you think. That’s largely because of director Steven Soderbergh, who hasn’t helmed a feature film since 2013’s Side Effects and Behind the Candelabra. Logan Lucky is a welcome comeback for the Oscar-winning filmmaker, overflowing with his trademark wit, style, and ability to juggle a star-studded cast. The film might not rank alongside his best work, but it is a fun ride that successfully blends Ocean’s Eleven with The Dukes of Hazzard.
Channing Tatum, who’s becoming a regular in Soderbergh’s projects, stars as Jimmy Logan, a broke divorcee that can’t hold down a job due to his bad leg. His brother is Clyde Logan (Adam Driver), who works as a bartender after losing an arm in the war. The brothers believe that their bad luck stems from a family curse and hope to reverse their fortune by robbing the Coca-Cola 600 race. To pull this job off, the two enlist their foxy sister (Riley Keough) and an incarcerated explosives expert named Joe Bang, played by Daniel Craig in what has to be the most American role of his career. Also along for the ride are Brian Gleeson and Jack Quaid as a couple rednecks that sound like they wandered off the set of a Coen brother’s movie.
Although Logan Lucky is a fairly straightforward heist comedy in some respects, the film also switches up just enough to leave its mark. For starters, movies like this typically have a scene where the characters discuss their entire plan in great detail. So if something goes horribly wrong, the audience is in on it. The Logan’s grand scheme isn’t meticulously spelt out, however, which makes the experience all the more unpredictable. Watching their plot in action, we’re constantly left guessing what’s waiting behind the corner. Even when it looks like we’ve reached the end of the line, the plan turns out to have extra layers that keep us on our toes.
Aside from having a well-crafted screenplay, Logan Lucky benefits from the presence of several strong actors. As he did in the Ocean’s trilogy, Soderbergh has assembled a stellar ensemble that works off one another wonderfully. While the aforementioned actors all shine, the minor supporting players also bring quite a lot to the table. An unrecognizable Seth MacFarlane scores several laughs as a cocky NASCAR driver. Young Farrah Mackenzie is charming as Jimmy’s daughter, who has her heart set on winning a beauty pageant. Hilary Swank is only onscreen for a few minutes as a driven FBI agent, but even her character is worthy of a spinoff.
Logan Lucky might lack the depth and ambition of Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver. As far as heist movies go, though, it’s cool and confident with a sharp sense of humor. What’s especially refreshing is that the film doesn’t treat its characters like idiots. In this day and age, southerners are typically portrayed as bumbling fools that make one mistake after another. While the characters here seem like stereotypical yokels at first, they all emerge as surprisingly intelligent individuals… either that or they all just got really lucky.