Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Riley Keough
Rated: PG-13 for language and some crude comments
1 hr., 58 mins.
Whaaaat have we here? It seems that director Steven Soderbergh, whose credits range from Erin Brockovich to the HBO series The Knick, wants to slip this little experiment past us. It’s August, after all, usually time for film producers to drain the swamp.
But you can’t blame big Hollywood for this one. Soderbergh did Logan Lucky completely on his own. It even comes with a pseudonym for a screenwriter and a magic website that can tell you exactly who is getting paid what.
All strange stuff, but nothing stranger than Logan Lucky itself.
Even Soderbergh admits that Logan Lucky is Ocean’s Eleven come down from the mountain, complete with mud-thick accent and lots of Southern ooze reminiscent of Burt Reynolds yukking it up in Smokey and the Bandit.
But there’s more. Daniel Craig — yes, I kid you not, Mr. 007 himself, chompin’ down real good on his drawl. As they would say back home: Weyall, I naver . . . .
Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) is a man under a curse. His ex-wife Bobbie Jo Chapman (Katie Holmes) hates him. He’s limping in pain. His boss has just fired him. His daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie) is ticked off because he missed her beauty pageant rehearsal. Jimmy is a man who is anything but lucky.
Brother Clyde (Adam Driver) seems equally cursed. He works in a dive bar in West Virginia. He also served time as a juvenile delinquent and lost an arm in the war. His future, as they might say in Carolina, ain’t much for askin,’ or something like that.
Jimmy has an idea and a code word for it. Cauliflower. It’s a certain type of robbery connected to a certain type of vegetable. Don’t ask. No explanation is given.
Jimmy’s plan is to put together a crew to rob the Charlottesville Speedway. Why Charlottesville? Well, you see, Jimmy’s old job was to prop up sinkholes under the track. He knows the vault where the concession money goes. He thinks he knows how to steal it. He’s even got a 10-point plan.
Jimmy and Clyde want to hire a safecracker to help them, a safecracker who happens to be in prison for, what else? Safecracking. The Logans hire Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), plus his motley brothers, Fish Bang (Jack Quaid) and Sam Bang (Brian Gleeson). Now all they have to do is figure out how to get Clyde into the slammer, then get Clyde and Joe out of the slammer, steal the money, then get Clyde and Joe back into the slammer without anyone being the wiser. Got it?
With this type of whiz-bang premise, I ask: What could possibly go wrong? And thus you understand the chaos that is about to ensue.
All of this comes with a certain understated humor. The pieces move along and allow for the typical numb-nuts behavior that always gets blamed on Southerners. And that is what’s difficult about this film.
Logan Lucky moves slowly in the beginning and doesn’t always make sense. It feels as if it needs to be reedited, rewritten, something; but pushing two hours, your patience with the premise will grow thin. There are moments of genius and moments of sluggishness and moments when it feels as if there’s no story to watch, just a bunch of filmed parts moving us toward the Speedway robbery.
Does it all add up? Well, there are more than a few kinks in Soderbergh’s experiment. Some parts are hilarious, some parts questionable. It’s like being a passenger in an old 1950s truck on a West Virginia back road. There are enough bumps to leave you bruised and enough whiskey and jokes to leave you laughing.
As for the trip itself, after getting out and brushing myself off, I would politely ask the driver: Pleaaaaase. Don’t take me down that country road again.