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Logan Lucky is first and foremost a heist movie. Arguably it's the first of its kind this decade, since the last time a really good movie of this stripe has focused on downhill good 'ol boys pulling an all-American snatch-and-grab, Burt Reynolds was still relevant. In its advertising the film mentions itself in the same breath as Ocean's Eleven (2001) but aside from both having the same director, the two couldn't be more miles apart. One's about career confidence men drinking fancy martinis. The other's about petty criminals snatching chump change from concession drawers. One's essentially Michael Caine, the other is Steve Martin.
As such, Logan Lucky doesn't come with the standard beats and rhythms of your average Italian Job (2003). It's slower, quirkier, meanders down narrative avenues then calls it all back in drastically different ways. While doing so it's also more human, more sympathetic calling to mind the best aspects of The Big Deal on Madonna Street (1958) with a uniquely Appalachian twang.
Recently let go from his construction job due to, "liability reasons with insurance," former football prodigy Jimmy Logan (Tatum) decides to put in motion a robbery plan he's obviously been thinking about for some time. He recruits his siblings, hairdresser Mellie (Keough) and one-handed bartender Clyde (Driver), to aid him. Then they knock on the door of infamous local demolitions expert and safe cracker Joe Bang (Craig) whose incarceration proves the first snag of many to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
As with all heist movies, much of the entertainment stems from the tension created when the plan, as described to the satisfaction of the audience deviates ever so slightly risking expose. What Logan Lucky doesn't just get right but gets near darn perfect is the way it plays with that convention. Large problems seem to wash over the ensemble with increasing grace almost as if they know they can rely on their community; family and own God-given intelligence will carry the day. Minor problems come across as inspired character moments for which Jimmy, Joe Bang and his brothers (Quaid and Gleeson) show their goofy, simple, superstitious selves.
I say goofy and simple not to be derivative, though if that's what you take from it then the film's prestige may come as a more pleasant surprise than you could hope for. Much of the plan relies on other characters, such as a stuffy prison warden (Yoakam) and a haughty race promoter (MacFarlane) to underestimate our ensemble's abilities.
The film does an excellent job humanizing our heroes by exploring and framing their environments as a point of fact. Jimmy doesn't live in squalor; he lives in a cozy house overlooking the West Virginia hills. Clyde isn't a one-handed freak, he's a war hero and a dedicated bartender to boot, Mellie, a capable getaway driver, the Bang brothers
professional bandits who "know all the twitters". The camera further
highlights this by panning and gliding at low angles making everyone loom larger; everyone including a late third act addition in Hilary Swank as a resourceful FBI investigator.
The film is not without its faults. The pacing seems to shift up and down like a Mustang barreling down the Eastbound I-64. And despite its knack for air-tight alibis, Logan Lucky leaves the audience hanging with a lot of unanswered questions. Given the controversy surrounding the financing of the film, there's little doubt a sequel is being planned. One which I look forward to, but if film is said to be poetic justice in a hundred minutes or less, Logan Lucky simply isn't as ingenious as it should be.
All that said, Steven Soderbergh's Logan Lucky is a breeze. It's a fine and feral addition to the pantheon of good time slice-of-life crime comedies that were first kicked off by Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974) and the like. And its quirkiness is helped immensely by its motley cast who by enlarge do wonders humanizing characters that otherwise would have been shrouded in misplaced mythos. If you've been curious about this one, do yourself a favor and check it out.
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