Review: Logan Lucky | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Review: Logan Lucky

Film Editor Patrick Box has a lot of fun with heist film Logan Lucky

'The heist' is the most formulaic genre in all of cinema. You start with the circumstances that drives our hero to setup the heist, then you introduce the intended target, we assemble the team, start the heist, introduce the complications that derail the plan, reveal the twist that was kept secret from the audience that these complications were in fact part of the plan all along, and our hero rides off into the sunset.

No director working today is more familiar with this formula than Steven Soderbergh, director of 2001's Ocean 11 and its two sequels. His most recent film, Logan Lucky, is a return to the heist genre and pays homage to this formula right from the beginning when Channing Tatum's character Jimmy Logan tapes a step-by-step rundown of 'how to plan a robbery' to his fridge. It just so happen this list also serves as a rundown of the exact story beats that are to follow. This doesn't mean that Logan Lucky tries to subvert this formula (in fact the film steers directly into it), but rather it shows that when you have a director who is aware of this, and knows how to use it, it can produce a real good time at the movies.

We primarily follow Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) a blue-collar family-man from the hills of West Virginia, whose family is famous across the county for its bad luck. After being fired from his job, and with his ex-wife (Katie Holmes) threatening to move out of State with their daughter, Jimmy decides he has to get money fast. Teaming with his one-armed brother Clyde Logan (Adam Driver), his sister Mellie (Riley Keough) and an in-car-cer-at-ed explosive expert, the unpredictable Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), he plans to steal $14 million from the Charlotte Motor Speedway, in North Carolina, on the busiest race day of the year. It's a straightforward story that goes like a train right from the off. Soderbergh knows he's here to entertain and as a result all extraneous details have been sheared of Rebecca Blunt's breezy script.

Soderbergh has brought together an eclectic but equally talented cast of individuals
Because the formula is so tried and tested, what makes or breaks the heist-film of the modern age is the cast. On the Ocean films Soderbergh ensured its quality by hiring eleven hollywood-stars complete with glamour, charisma and dodgy accents (Don Cheadle we haven't forgotten). With Logan Lucky, Soderbergh has brought together a much more eclectic but equally talented cast of individuals. Rejecting the glitz and glamour of Danny Ocean and co, these characters are down on their luck southerners complete with drawling accents and questionable facial-hair. Tatum is exactly who you want to lead this cast. Committing to the accent, and a heavy limp, he boasts enough charm to generate audience goodwill but still manages to be believable in the role. Katie Holmes as his ex-wife is formidable and all-to-familiar to those who have spent time in southern America, swerving between doting on her daughter and busting Jimmy’s balls in the blink of an eye. Elvis granddaughter and Mad Max alumni Riley Keough keeps it deadpan as beautician sister Mellie, who goes along with her brothers’ plot with nothing more than a raised eyebrow, affording them her bafflingly accurate knowledge of all things vehicular. Sebastian Stan and Katherine Waterston have enjoyable cameos as a health-obsessed NASCAR driver and travelling immuniser respectively.

The award for the real MVP, though, has to be shared between Craig and Driver. Craig’s unrecognisable turn as the bleach-blond explosives expert has been heavily advertised and for most will probably be the reason they see the film. Luckily(eyyy!) he doesn’t disappoint. Hyperactive, high-pitched and nasal, it’s clear Craig is having a ball playing something a little more demanding than a wise-cracking Tom Ford mannequin. Meanwhile we have Adam Driver’s Clyde as his polar opposite, a drawling, expressionless, Iraq veteran who is just as laconic lighting a molotov as he is driving a car through a conveyance store window. Driver continues his recent turn of stealing the show no matter the film and reminds us all here why he had his start in comedy. Logan Lucky is not a comedy-film, but it has comedy due to Blunt’s character work and the acting.

The award for the real MVP, though, has to be shared between Craig and Driver
Watching Clyde quietly seethe as he drawls the codeword “cauliflower” is worth the price of admission alone, and the moment where the characters pause mid-heist so Craig can give an impromptu chemistry lesson is a standout helped along by stellar editing. There are some fumbles however. Seth MacFarlane reminds us all that he should keep to animation, appearing in a fat-suit as energy-drink mogul and boasting a completely unnecessary english accent that only served to give me flashbacks to Ocean Eleven (looking at you Don Cheadle). Also Hilary Swank’s last-minute inclusion as a cartoonishly inflexible FBI agent is like waiting for the punchline for a joke you’re pretty sure isn’t going to be funny. Also the section of the film ‘post-heist’ but before ‘big-twist’ drags a little and looses the momentum perfection of the rest of the film. We know the formula guys, you’re not going to fool us.

But these are small quibbles. The only thing that is potentially problematic of the film is just how throw-away it all is. Logan Lucky is a lot of fun but not a lot else. A throwaway line about Clyde joining the army in order to escape Jimmy’s shadow hints at an interesting emotional complexity which is immediately forgotten. There is an extended joke midway through about a prison riot based around George RR. Matin taking too long to publish his final two Game of Thrones novels. It’s indicative of the film, at the time it’s very funny, but it dates itself. It’s of its moment and not meant to last. That being said, the heist-genre has always been about unashamed entertainment and Logan Lucky delivers in spades. Ocean’s 11 got two sequels. Fingers crossed.

Verdict: An unashamedly entertaining heist film that boasts a stellar cast giving stellar performances. May not leave a lasting memory but you'll leave the cinema with a massive grin.

Rating: 8/10

If Indiana Jones had a kid with Han Solo, I'm the guy who sat behind him in school.


8th September 2017 at 11:00 am

Images from

Time Magazine and Empire magazine