Film Review & Podcast: “Logan Lucky”

Posted: August 20th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Were Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) and his brothers, Fish (Jack Quaid) and Sam (Brian Gleeson), the centerpieces of Steven Soderbergh’s “Logan Lucky,” the good ol’ southern boy (and gal) caper comedy would be as raucous and full of guffaws as the movie’s ubiquitous trailer portends it to be.

The Bang boys remind us of the sort of stereotyped denizens of Appalachia we observed in “The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia” (an unbelievingly real life documentary) and such non-fictional fare as in “Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.” You know, chaw chewing, dim lights, prone to say and do the funniest if stupidest things.

Like Fish’s declaration in this movie when he’s trying to convince he’s computer savvy, “I know all the Twitters.” Or Joe’s knowing but duh-oh admonition to the Logan brothers, Jimmy (Channing Tatum) and Clyde (Adam Driver), when they visit him in jail to recruit him for their heist. If you’ve seen that preview, you know the dialog.

“I am in car cer a ted.”

But the Bang’s aren’t the driving force here, those Logan bros. and sister Mellie (Riley Keogh) are. Thus we have a movie far more understated and, dare I suggest, subtler — a relative term — than promoted. At least, that’s this guy’s opinion.

And that is to the viewer’s surprise, and credit to director Soderbergh and screenwriter, the unknown, mysterious and previously unheard from Rebecca Blunt. For the Logan family, which always seems to be cursed by bad luck, or so they believe, are somewhat muted lot. At least for a clan that plots to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway on race day, after breaking a couple of guys out of jail and getting them back before the authorities notice.

Yes Jimmy’s adoring daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie), who lives with mom (Katie Holmes) and step dad, competes in one of those eerie Jon Benet Ramsay beauty pageants, but that peculiarly absurd cultural anachronism is not played for condescension.

Nor is most of this film, as one might be misled to think from the pre-release PR campaign.

Jimmy loses his job, so he gets his vet brother and hairstylist sis to join him to steal the loot. Soon enough the Bangs are on board and the caper ensues.

I love heist flicks, even when as implausible as this one, even when the the details are but sketchily drawn.

What we get is some insight into these folks ways, though the perspective is always toward laughter.

There’s the paranoid prison head, Dwight Yoakum. Respects paid to Warden Norton in “The Shawshank Redemption.” There’s the resolute FBI agent (Hilary Swank) out to crack the case, though her bosses tell her to give it up. Reminded me of Oscar Grace in “Body Heat.”

So what we have here is a smidge of homage to films that have come before. An audacious caper heist, perpetrated by a curious crew. Some insightful examination of the Southern way. Humor both subtle and not so. A hot soundtrack that includes Bo Diddley’s “Road Runner” and “Almost Heaven West Virginia.” Plus Daniel Craig in a blonde buzzcut.

And, an ambiguous final scene. Which always adds points on my scorecard.

What I experienced from “Logan Lucky” wasn’t nearly what I expected.

But I was thoroughly entertained.

For further examination, listen to my podcasted take:

Audio MP3

— c d kaplan

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