One of the most adventurous souls in Hollywood is 54-year-old director Steven Soderbergh. A diverse range of films populate his body of work, from the mainstream blockbuster appeal of Ocean’s Eleven (2001) to his independent debut Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989) that won the Palme D’or at the Cannes Film Festival. The veteran director’s first film in four years, Logan Lucky, with a September 8 release, is elevated from the typical heist thriller by Soderbergh’s mix of visual flair and great acting by the cast, including Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and Daniel Craig.
Tatum and Driver play the film’s titular Logan brothers, who belong to a family afflicted by what the townsfolk call the “Logan curse”. Jimmy (Tatum) was once on his way to a professional career in football while his brother Clyde (Driver) lost his arm while serving in the Iraq War. Both are down on their luck and one of the film’s characters tells them, “Both of you just about add up to half a man.” Jimmy is laid off from his construction job and is later told that his ex-wife is moving out of the state with their daughter, which means he will see even less of her than he does now. The unfortunate series of events forces Jimmy to come up with a plan – the perfect bank robbery. For this, he will require the services of Clyde, Craig’s unhinged incarcerated explosion expert Joe Bang and his brothers Sam (Brian Gleeson) and Fish (Jack Quaid).
In a meta-moment in Logan Lucky, following the heist, the townsfolk remark that this is “Ocean’s 7-11”, which is more or less what the film is. Like in the Ocean’s trilogy, Soderbergh is obsessed with the minutiae of the perfect crime. The characters and their motivations are secondary to the plot and the greater focus is on their skills and talent that enable the robbery to take place. But the 119-minute film zips along at a steady pace and is packed with jokes, including a hilarious one involving Game of Thrones and author George RR Martin’s slow pace of writing. Although Soderbergh’s effort falters in the third act, which is stretched out for a tad too long, Logan Lucky is emblematic of the classic 1980s Hollywood blockbuster: it is great fun while it lasts, but you will forget it soon after.