It’s hard not to feel a bit of deja vu while watching the new crime-comedy Logan Lucky; it appears that director Steven Soderbergh has seemingly fashioned a remake of his own remake of Ocean’s Eleven (there’s even a joke in the movie referencing that film). As a result, the meta concept for this feature won’t provide many surprises story wise. However, the ensemble cast are so amusing and having such a great time onscreen that the film ultimately works as an enjoyable lark.
Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) is a miner doing his best to make ends meet and live up to his responsibilities with daughter Sadie (Farrah MacKenzie) and ex-wife Bobbi Jo (Katie Holmes). When he’s laid off, Jimmy decides to recruit his one-handed brother Clyde (Adam Driver) and hairdresser sister Mellie (Riley Keough) to help him with a remarkable heist. It involves robbing the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race by breaking into the cash vault beneath the track. Joining in the extremely elaborate plot is imprisoned explosives expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) and his siblings Sam Bang (Brian Gleeson) and Fish Bang (Jack Quaid).
As mentioned, if you’ve seen Ocean’s Eleven, you’ll know exactly what you’re in for. But it’s the unusual cast of characters that help differentiate the film and make it an interesting counterpoint to the previous feature. They all have a strong southern drawl, and while clever, lack the suave personalities of a typical heist movie hero. This is where much of the humor is sourced from. Imagine a detailed discussion about the intricacies of an elaborate robbery while the characters play horseshoes with toilet seat covers and you get the idea.
The situations the robbers find themselves in are absurd as well. In order to get their explosives experts to the site, the team must plot to break Joe Bang out of prison, get him beneath the track and then break him back into the penitentiary without being noticed by the Warden (Dwight Yokam). Other complications include the lead’s desire to pull off the big crime and still make it home in time for his young daughter’s appearance at a child beauty pageant.
It’s incredibly goofy, yet works reasonably well. The characters play it straight-faced and don’t resort to slapstick. Instead, Tatum and the rest of the cast use their comic timing together to great effect and the performers all really dig in to their character’s quirks and eccentricities. Driver and Craig (in a very different turn from his James Bond persona) really play up their strangeness to maximum results. The latter even delivers a chemistry lesson after having his bizarre corner store bomb ingredients questioned. These are the kind of robbers who have a written robbery to-do list, experience difficulty waking up on time or possess a lead-foot, all leading to unexpected consequences.
This is also a good-looking movie, with some nice and colorful photography present in some dirty and less-than-exotic locales. Overall, most of Logan Lucky is familiar, but seeing these big performers take part in a sweet-natured “hillbilly heist” that gently plays with the genre’s movie tropes as its inspiration earns plenty of laughs. The summer may be coming to an end, but it seems there is one last entertaining popcorn flick for audiences to enjoy.