Logan Lucky

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday August 18, 2017

Daniel Craig stars in 'Logan Lucky'
Daniel Craig stars in 'Logan Lucky'  

Despite having putatively left feature films behind, Steven Soderbergh is back on the bog screen with a comic caper called "Logan Lucky." The title is a bit of a jest; the Logan family are notoriously unlucky, suffering a multi-generational streak of misfortune that has left Jimmy Logan (Chaning Tatum) with a limp after blowing out his knee and losing his chance at a pro sports career. His brother Clyde (Adam Driver) has come home from Iraq missing a hand and half a forearm. Their sister Mellie (Riley Keogh) seems to have defied the family curse -- but who knows how long that will last given her penchant for driving around their home state of West Virginia at high speeds?

The film underscores the notion of familial bad luck by opening on a sweet scene in which Jimmy is working on his truck while giving his daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie) a mini-lecture about a country song -- the one the tells us, "Some days are diamonds, some days are stones." Guess which sort Jimmy's about to have? That's right: The kind that ends up with his being laid off, followed in short order by the news that his ex-wife Bobby Jo (Katie Holmes) is about to leave West Virginia with her new husband, his twin boys from a previous marriage, and -- of course -- Sadie.

Deciding he's just about fed up with accepting the twists life serves up (and needing money for a lawyer so he can fight to keep Sadie), Jimmy hatches a plan to liberate a considerable amount of cash from the local Nascar speedway. To accomplish this he needs the help of his siblings, plus the expertise of local legend Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), a crackerjack bank robber. The fact that Joe is in prison only lends another wrinkle to Jimmy's intricate plans. The further fact that Joe insists his two dullard brothers (Brian Gleeson and Jack Quaid) adds to the film's comedy quotient.

This is one of those puzzle-box movies that plays out like a Rubick's Cube, with plots underlying plots and wheels spinning inside of wheels. It's as narratively busy as "Now You See Me," but Soderbergh manages to keep the movie grounded in its familial framework so that it also plays like a tarted-up version of "Hell or High Water." The result is a fast-moving, if sometimes slight, heist film. But if the story seems a little light (and the gang's plans a little too reliant on contingencies that can't exactly be planned in precise detail), the acting exudes considerable gravity -- as does Channing, who's gained a few pounds for his role.

Not all the acting is top-notch; Seth McFarlane tries his hand at Mike Myers-style comedy, complete with Aussie accent, and while he succeeds well enough his character is never more than a distraction. Another minor role goes to Hilary Swank, who appears, to no real effect, in an extended denouement and then fetches up in a puzzling coda. What's meant by such trappings is unclear, but with Soderbergh back in the driver's seat you know you're in or an enjoyable ride.


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Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.