Cinematic Releases: Logan Lucky (2017) Reviewed

The revolution is on. Renowned auteur returns from retirement with a film financed outside of the Hollywood system.  Both an experiment of creative freedom and an absolutely charming crime caper, Logan Lucky is a small, intimate story that allows the master to flex all of his technical might in a tight package of felonious humor. 

Jimmy Logan is an out of work coal miner desperate to keep his daughter from leaving the state with his ex-wife and her family.  Using his intimate knowledge of the Charlotte Motor Speedway, he assembles a rag tag group of colorful characters to pull of the not so perfect heist of the century, all the while trying to avoid his familial curse of bad luck.  Soderbergh shot, edited, directed, and most likely wrote the film under the alias Rebecca Blunt.  From the instant the camera begins to roll, the audience is reminded that they are in the hands of a consummate artist.  The story takes its time, building the engaging personalities of its players within a backwoods, blue collar fairy tale that at its core is a story about family and its infinite permutations. 

Channing Tatum continues to show he is more than capable of performing in the spotlight.  One of the film's best details is his chemistry with Katie Holmes, who plays his ex-wife.  The treatment of a blended family has bits of awkward humor and touching subtleties that demonstrate Soderbergh's unique and respectful understanding of how families strive to get along for the benefit of their children.  Adam Driver is hilarious as Tatum's wounded veteran brother.  His scenes with Tatum are laugh out loud funny due to Driver's delivery and both actors' fraternal embodiments.  There are so many looks of annoyed love that the viewer can't help but cheer for these ridiculous outlaws.  Riley Keough rounds out the Logan family as the Dixie femme fatale, yet even her sexual power is underplayed to enforce the theme of playfulness that runs through out.  There are no guns or erotic encounters.  There is only the caper itself and the hilarity involved in the planning and execution. 

Daniel Craig gives the performance of his career as in-car-cer-rated explosives expert Joe Bang.  Craig's comedic timing, insane accent, and brilliant delivery is the standout, with a mid-heist chemistry lesson providing one of the film's greatest laughs.  Dwight Yokam, Hilary Swank, and the great indie icon Macon Blair all have amazing, and perfectly abrupt cameos that enhance the criminal mayhem with a plethora of smirk inducing homages.  This is Soderbergh reflecting on himself, his career, and the state of the industry, and rather than dissent, he pulls yet another trick and shows that independent cinema can be star studded crowd-pleasing affairs in the same manner as a summer blockbuster, and possibly greater. 

I'm Bond. Albino Bond. 

The camerawork and editing are familiar friends, signifying Soderbergh's trademarks.  Slick panning dovetails with tight framed overhead angles to capture not only the action, but the world around it.  Rather than going for color saturation or visual splendor, everything is presented in a matter of fact fashion that relies on outstanding blocking and composition.  Position is key in many of the scenes, revealing interesting tricks of the trade for the astute viewer.  David Holmes returns to his Ocean's roots, blending the flashy tones of '70s caper films with a down home mystique that not only tonally narrates the heist, it also is one of the many winks to the titular trilogy, a final, masterful hat tip to the industry Soderbergh is seeking to change. 

In theaters tonight, Logan Lucky is the film to see this weekend.  It would be easy to say that the movie demands a viewing if only to rebel against the soulless box office flops that have littered the summer season, but Soderbergh's rogue tactics are used for peace rather than war.  This is a remarkable effort because it reminds the audience that its ok to laugh and to be reminded that it is the simple things, such as family and love that matter in the end.  With big budget titans dominating the field, Logan Lucky shows that there is room in the game for the little guy, and if allowed to play, smaller films with heart, might even be the MVP. 


Kyle Jonathan