So a quick word about the screenwriter, Rebecca Blunt. The official press materials indicate she is a first time screenwriter who is friends with star Channing Tatum and director Steven Soderbergh, originally from West Virginia. Some people believe this is a pseudonym for Steven himself, who is from Atlanta and is certainly friends with Channing Tatum. I don’t know whether or not she’s real, but honestly: I don’t care.
Logan Lucky takes place in West Virginia fairly close to the North Carolina border. Channing Tatum stars as Jimmy Logan, a hardworking, divorced father and coal miner who’s just been laid off due to mostly unfair reasons. Adam Driver stars as army veteran and Jimmy’s brother Clyde, who lost one arm, and Riley Keough is their sister Mellie, a bit of a cliché but played with a lot of winning charisma.
Jimmy’s new lack of employment means he now has a lot of worries about being able to be a present father for his daughter, who’s under the primary custody of his ex-wife Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes) and her new husband, that guy from The Office who was engaged to Pam in the first season. But he comes up with a crazy plan to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he used to work in the tunnels. A classic heist scheme.
So they need to get the gang together, which is the Logans and also the imprisoned bomb expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig with a pretty convincing Appalachian accent) and his moronic brothers. Just like any heist movie, there are twists and turns and betrayals and fake betrayals and coincidences and contrivances and flashbacks and quick cuts and lots of characters introduced quickly and then thrown away. This is both a strength and weakness of the script, as some of these pay off, and others, like an amusing NASCAR racer played by Sebastian Stan, are basically in a different movie.
The heist itself is logical enough for the most part, and much of the fun is watching how things go right or wrong and how the team responds. At a hair under two hours, the movie drags a bit in places, especially some of the odd prison scenes that again seemed like part of a different movie. Tonally it’s all mostly comedic, and that heist-comedy part is what works; any attempt at real emotion falls flat. Primarily it’s because the reason we have to care about the Logans and their bad luck curse or whatever is because they seem like good people. But it’s not like the Speedway is an evil organization or full of criminals.
Sure, Jimmy losing his job was a bit unfair, certainly, but it’s really barely a real point. The real point is that heists are fun. The strengths here were Daniel Craig as a loony criminal, and he’s great, and the way the movie looks — everything has a fun, quick feel. The weaknesses are the length, the contrivances, and Seth McFarlane’s ridiculous British racer character. I’ve heard him do decent British accents before, but this time was not good.
As far as I’m concerned, Soderbergh hit his peak with Ocean’s 11, which was literally 16 years ago. He’s had other decent movies in the meantime, but this movie is probably one of his better ones. Hard to say whether or not this will resonate with an audience, but it’s a nice time for folks that might need a distraction.
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Logan Lucky has a run time of 1 hour 59 minutes and is rated PG-13 for language and some crude comments.