by Paislee House, Film Critic
After a four-year hiatus, filmmaker Steven Soderbergh returns to the big screen with Channing Tatum in “Logan Lucky.” The film is familiar territory for Soderbergh, who has directed both heist and comedy films in the past such as the “Ocean’s” series or the first “Magic Mike.” Soderbergh’s experience and talent are on full display in “Logan Lucky,” which might be his best film to date.
Set in West Virginia, “Logan Lucky” is the story of siblings trying to outrun a family curse. Though it deals with some serious issues like familial pressures and custody disputes, “Logan Lucky” is never entirely serious and is full of laughs.
Written by Rebecca Blunt—who is rumored to be a pseudonym for Jules Asner, John Henson or Soderbergh himself, but we’re gonna refer to the writer as Blunt for this review—the film is full of inside jokes both about Southern culture, popular culture and even previous Soderbergh films.
For example, during a scene post-heist, you can hear the news on an out-of-shot television say that the in-film heist is being called “Ocean’s 7/11.” In another instance, inmates in the local jail stand in defiant disbelief that George R. R. Martin still hasn’t written The Winds of Winter. It’s these touches of subtle humor that produce the biggest laughs.
Blunt’s script is fully realized by a superb cast of actors. With “Logan Lucky,” Channing Tatum officially cemented himself as an amazing talent in my eyes. Since “Step Up,” Tatum has become much more than the hot, bad-boy dancer. His filmography is full of excellent performances and his role as Jimmy Logan is one of his best performances yet.
Alongside Tatum are Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Riley Keough, Jack Quaid, and Brian Gleeson. As always, Driver is exceptional; he has become somewhat of an indie darling known for his impeccable acting skills and authenticity. And let’s not forget the fact that he’s also Kylo Ren. Regardless of the size of the film, Driver can always be trusted to deliver an enjoyable performance. As Clyde Logan, Driver is deadpan, hilarious and engaging.
Another outstanding performance comes from Daniel Craig who plays a criminal chemistry whiz named Joe Bang. Everyone in the film has to fake a Southern accent, but Craig’s is especially entertaining considering the man is British. As Joe, Craig plays a crazy, twisted and smart West Virginian whose love of science serves him and the Logan brothers well as they attempt to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
With its great touches of humor and talented cast, it’s hard to be overly critical with the film, but it isn’t entirely perfect. Up against such a brilliant cast, Katie Holmes and Seth MacFarlane wane. Neither character is particularly likeable, but it’s the lackluster performances that are a letdown. Holmes’ Southern accent is atrocious and though MacFarlane’s character is supposed to be obnoxious, his performance is too over-the-top to be believable. Lucky for us, the story gives them a relatively small amount of screen time.
Whoever Rebecca Blunt truly is, they have an impressive command of storytelling and character creation. One of the reasons “Logan Lucky” is so enjoyable is because its story is at once off-the-wall and relatable. Jimmy Logan is just an average guy trying to be a good father. His plight is one felt by many, and though he’s seen as a dumb “hillbilly” by everyone, he’s intelligent enough to put together a complex robbery. In fact, one of my favorite parts of the film was seeing a distinct group of individuals that all exist in rural West Virginia and how they interact with each other and the world. The West Virginian setting takes full advantage of Southern stereotypes but it is never offensive.
“Logan Lucky” is one of the most original and genuinely funny films I’ve seen in this year. Soderbergh’s direction, the talented cast, and Rebecca Blunt’s witty script all mesh together to make a near perfect film. It would be nearly impossible to not enjoy “Logan Lucky,” and if you’re looking for something fun to do indoors this weekend, seeing “Logan Lucky” should be at the top of your list.