Steven Soderbergh’s newest film combines elements of Oh Brother Where Art Thou, Ocean’s Eleven, and Talladega Nights in a tale of crime, family, and NASCAR racing. Logan Lucky stars Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Katie Holmes, and Seth MacFarlane. In a role very different from his stripper character in Magic Mike, Tatum plays Jimmy Logan, a West Virginian miner with a bum leg who is let go from his job due to what his boss refers to as a pre-existing medical condition. With no job prospects and a daughter to help raise, Logan recruits his brother Clyde, his sister Mellie, a seasoned (and imprisoned) demolition expert, as well as a couple of not too bright accomplices in order to execute his plan to steal money during a big race at North Carolina’s Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Soderbergh is well known for directing such films as Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven, Erin Brockovich, The Informant!, and Contagion. With Logan Lucky, the director tries his hand at a heist movie that’s steeped in dry humour and occupied by off-beat but likeable country characters. The film’s only misstep seems to be Seth MacFarlane’s character, Max Chilblain, who plays the obnoxious creator of a popular sports drink. This audacious character could easily be interpreted as MacFarlane’s over the top impression of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Jean Girard race car driver character in 2006‘s Talladega Nights. MacFarlane’s presence in Logan Lucky is both unnecessary and distracting.
In Logan Lucky, Channing Tatum is cast against type as his pretty boy looks are underplayed in favour of a more realistic portrayal of a down on his luck miner who’s divorced, just lost his job, and is struggling to make ends meet. Katie Holmes has a small role as his remarried ex wife, but it’s Logan’s loving relationship with his young daughter Sadie which gives the film its heart. Adam Driver portrays Jimmy’s brother Clyde, a wounded ex soldier who lost his hand during his military service and now works as a bartender in a local bar. Daniel Craig’s role in Logan Lucky is a far cry from his previous work as suave secret agent 007. In this film he portrays a safe cracking convict who goes by the tongue in cheek name of James “Bang”.
When the Logan brothers gather together their offbeat gang of characters to pull off a once in a lifetime heist, all bets are off. Will luck be on their side? One of the themes of the movie involves the question of what it means to be lucky. Is luck something that one is born with like some sort of genetic gift, or can you acquire it through effort and perseverance? In the Logan family, luck seems to be in limited supply with both brothers suffering from injuries; Clyde is forced to wear a prosthetic arm for the rest of his life and Jimmy’s professional and personal life is in chaos. The only bright spot in this character’s lackluster life is obviously the limited time he spends with his young daughter, played by Farrah Mackenzie.
In the late stages of the movie, Hilary Swank appears in a small role as a no-nonsense FBI agent sent in to lead the speedway investigation. Although her involvement in Logan Lucky is minimal at best, her presence at Clyde’s bar at the end of the film may indicate that the Logan brothers’ luck may be short lived.
Unlike Soderbergh’s Ocean’s film series, Logan Lucky isn’t populated with career criminals and self assured conmen clad in crisp suits and sporting sly smiles. This is a film about a down on his luck everyday man with little left to lose who takes the chance of a lifetime in the hopes of bettering his (and his family’s) lives. Instead of the spit and polish of a Vegas casino, Logan Lucky is set amidst the grit, grime, oil, and gas fumes of a NASCAR racetrack. The film is populated by a cast of characters caked in coal dust and sweat. Logan Lucky also serves to shine a spotlight on a portion of Americans who struggle day after day just to earn a descent pay cheque and the drastic measures they sometimes resort to in order to escape the trappings of poverty and despair.
Logan Lucky is now playing in theatres.