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Hoping to reverse a 'curse' that's hung over his family for generations, Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) hatches a plan to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR's biggest race of the year. He convinces his bartender brother Clyde (Adam Driver) and hairdresser sister Mellie (Riley Keough) to help him pull everything off--but first they have to break the bomb-maker Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) out of jail in broad daylight. Academy Award winner Hilary Swank plays a no-nonsense FBI agent determined to bring the Logans to justice and keep them from racing away with the loot in this high-speed caper from Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh.
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And while that description is not exactly inaccurate, it’s also not quite to the picture itself. The difference is in the picture’s sense of warmth: Far from satirizing his cast of characters, director Steven Soderbergh actually embraces them, and in the process creates a oddly heartwarming comedy in which the audience finds itself rooting against the traditional good guys, in favor of a demographic which usually doesn’t receive much of a break in the popular American lexicon.
“Logan Lucky” details the adventures of an unemployed West Virginia construction worker who, at the end of his financial rope, hatches a scheme to rob the massive Charlotte Motor Speedway during the popular annual Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race. And in order to carry off the heist, the would-be master criminal needs to recruit the most colorful group of accomplices this side of Mayberry…or “Deliverance.”
Written by Rebecca Blunt—thought to be a pseudonym for either the director’s wife or Soderbergh himself—the script renders most of the characters underwritten, incomplete, and lacking in motivation. But instead of being a detriment to the picture, the absence of character complexity works in the movie’s favor, allowing a remarkably talented group of players the additional space to inhabit their characters more fully.
Led by the baleful and laconic Channing Tatum as the unemployed and desperate Jimmy Logan, some of the actors invest their roles so successfully that you’ll have trouble recognizing even a few of the more familiar faces.
Among those who all but vanish into their characters are Sebastian Stan, from the Marvel “Captain America” series of pictures, as a member of the Logan Gang, and country music legend Dwight Yoakum as a prison warden. And even two-time Academy Award-winning actress Hilary Swank turns up relatively late in the game, as a straight-as-an-arrow FBI agent trying to crack the credibility-straining heart of the caper.
In the meantime, the entire cast works together beautifully. Particularly noteworthy are Adam Driver, sporting an accent which leans more toward Missouri than West Virginia as Jimmy’s partially-disabled Gulf War veteran brother Clyde, and a ridiculously funny Daniel Craig as the gang’s demolitions expert, the appropriately-named Joe Bang. If the usually dour and humorless Craig is capable of this kind of relaxed and engaging comedy performance, it’s no wonder he reportedly feels restricted by his association with the phenomenally popular James Bond series of pictures.
It’s tough to not like a picture in which part of the main character’s unlikely motivation as a criminal is to be a better parent to his daughter. And despite the more colorful, exciting, and sometimes even nail-bitingly suspenseful elements of the plot, the emotional climax of “Logan Lucky” is actually the daughter’s serenading her father with an off-key rendition of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Road.” Better yet, the scene works.
“Logan Lucky” depends somewhat on the audience’s playing along with its unlikely scenario from the first scene until the picture’s enormously satisfying conclusion, but that’s easy to do in a picture as friendly and eager-to-please as this one. The last scene seems to leave a door open for a sequel. Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s 11” spawned “Ocean’s 12” and “Ocean’s 13.” Let’s hope that “Logan Lucky” can also spread around some of that good fortune.
I thought that the movie was hysterical. It was brilliantly written, and even more brilliantly acted out. Channing Tatum does an excellent job, as does Daniel Craig, but I have to say that Adam Driver really stole the show for me. (For those that have seen the movie, his delivery when talking about cauliflower almost had me in tears). The movie has great cinematography and a good sound track.
Overall, I very thoroughly enjoyed the movie, but its style of humor is very... Different. I can't quite explain how it is but it's a type of movie that not everyone will "get". There will be plenty of people that think it's stupid, and I completely understand why they would. But I very much enjoyed the movie.
The mysterious Rebecca Blunt (who may or may not exist) is credited with the screenplay about three siblings whose family seems to be jinxed. Does that jinx extend to the Charlotte Motor Speedway?
Part of Soderbergh's cast:
* Channing Tatum ("Magic Mike") is Jimmy, a gimpy vet who was injured in the military. His ex-wife has custody of their daughter and might be moving to another state. This decent fellow has just been laid off and REALLY needs some money. In his opinion, NASCAR is made of money!
* Adam Driver ("Girls") Clyde lost the lower part of his arm in Iraq and is working as a one-armed bartender (his prosthesis is cosmetic). He isn't the brightest bulb in the box.
* Riley Keough ("Mad Max: Fury Road") Their lovely sister Mellie is a hairdresser who seems to have avoided the family jinx...so far.
* Katie Holmes ("The Kennedys") Ex-wife Bobbie Jo has married a successful businessman and has been awarded custody of their girl.
* Farrah Mackenzie ("Please Stand By") Sadie is their beloved daughter: smart, talented, and devoted to her daddy. Watch her hand him tools as he repairs a car.
* Seth MacFarlane ("Family Guy") is the egotistical race car driver Max Chilblain.
* Jeff Gordon plays himself (a race car driver), who butts heads with Max.
* Daniel Craig ("Cowboys & Aliens") Explosives expert Joe Bang is the key to this heist. Problem is, he's in jail. He's pretty sure his brothers can help.
In my opinion, Craig is a revelation. I first realized what a fine actor he was when I saw his wrenching portrayal of doomed, convicted murderer and would-be artist Perry Smith as he is wheedled into interviews by Toby Jones' Truman Capote in "Infamous," for Capote's best seller "In Cold Blood." Both then and now, Craig's southern accent is understated and authentic. He seems to be having a whee of a time in this one! (James Bond was a sidetrack,)
In this R-rated actioner, the heist is complex, the dialogue is fun, and the end is satisfying. No vehicular mayhem, few fisticuffs, hardly any profanity, and just a bit of blowie uppie stuff. What more can we want?