Title: Logan Lucky
Release Date: 08/18/2017
Studi0: Bleeker Street Media
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Release Format: Theatrical
There’s something about a good heist movie that is just so captivating. Usually, they feature well-connected criminals in luxury cars using cunning and expertise to carry out high stakes crime, usually to punish some oppositional rich person or bank or casino. Logan Lucky isn’t that heist movie.
Logan Lucky is about a divorced, newly unemployed father, his Iraq war vet little brother and their heist to get one big score. The score isn’t to fund anything in particular, it’s not to do any damage to the target of the theft, it’s just to get a win in a life filled with loss after loss. The younger brother, Clyde (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), introduces the concept of a Logan curse early in the movie. A streak of total failure for members of the Logan family that is so pronounced, even people outside of the family are aware of it.
It’s never explicitly stated in the movie, but the underlying mythology of the movie is about the film’s star, Jimmy (Channing Tatum, Magic Mike), trying to break the family curse for his daughter (Farrah Mackenzie) and probably also younger sister (Riley Keough, Mad Max) so they aren’t subjected to the same failures as the Logans that came before them.
The 11-year-old Farrah Mackenzie completely overshadows everyone else on screen in every scene she’s in as Jimmy’s daughter Sadie. She doesn’t do a lot of heavy-lifting plotwise, so she’s mostly just there to be adorable and humanize her father as he sets out to do criminal things, but she’s got fantastic comedic timing and plays so well with the rest of the cast.
As with director Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s films, the heist goes through the classic beats of a proper heist setup. You have a man with a personal drive using social and fiscal leverage to gather a group of specialists for an elaborate plot that is only partially explained to the audience. Then you have hints dropped over the course of the movie as to the various unspoken twists and turns of the plot, and then the big reveal of the third layer, the aspects of the plan neither explained or shown. The black plastic contractor bags and pickup trucks are shot with the same dignity and intensity as the guns and sports cars of a typical heist movie, giving everything a weight that keeps things exciting.
In Logan Lucky, instead of gold bars or neatly bundled stacks of currency, it’s the cash take from a speedway’s pneumatic deposit system used by all the various concession stands. Instead of an international safecracker, an acrobat, or a tech expert, the crew consists of a coal miner, a bartender, an imprisoned bank robber, and the bank robber’s two brothers, a couple of yokels who get scouted at a county fair where they are competing to bob for pigs’ feet.
While there are some story beats that use the unsophistication and poverty of these characters as a punchline (Ex: “Are you calling from a secure line?” “We’re calling from the… Lowe’s?”), mostly this is a loving look at a community that has legitimate struggles to overcome. The movie shows Jimmy laid off for being an insurance liability for having a limp, we hear multiple people lament the quality of the drinking water. Even the hard lives of prisoners are highlighted with a corrupt warden who refuses to acknowledge anything negative about his prison.
The cast is star-studded and fantastic. You have the brothers played by Tatum and Driver (Nerd note: Driver, who plays the nephew of famously one-handed Luke Skywalker in Force Awakens, is missing a hand and wears a prosthetic.), bank robber Joe Bang played by James Bond himself, Daniel Craig, Dwight Yoakam playing the shady prison warden and Hilary Swank playing a resolute FBI agent.
The biggest misstep in the casting and writing is the subplot starring Seth MacFarlane and Sebastian Stan, an energy drink company owner and NASCAR driver that get in a bar fight with the brothers Logan early on in the film. MacFarlane comes in with strange curly hair and a big mustache speaking in a ridiculous English accent, berating Stan’s driver character who is apparently something of a fitness/nutrition nut as shown in an ESPN-like bio cutaway before the movie’s climactic Coca-Cola 600 race.
These two characters have no impact on the rest of the movie. They don’t belong, they have no hidden role in the heist, their performance in the race has no impact on the heist. I just can’t figure out why these two are in the movie. You could completely write out their parts and virtually nothing would change.
Verdict: Logan Lucky is a true-to-form heist movie shown through a lower-class filter without making people in poverty a punchline of the movie. This heist is less about the cash grab and more about a bunch of losers feeling like winners for once. The movie’s only real dead weight comes in the form of a subplot starring Seth MacFarlane doing an over-the-top British character that has no real impact on the events of the film.
- Masterful direction
- Comedy balanced with heartfelt moments
- Amazing cast
- Seth MacFarlane's pointless character
- Plot is a bit formulaic