Susan Granger’s review of “Logan Lucky” (Bleecker Street/Fingerprint Releasing)
Let’s face it: crime capers are fun – and this slick heist may be Steven Soderbergh’s best. It’s a blast!
After a leg injury sidelined him from a football career, Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) traded his helmet for a hardhat. But now his limp means he can’t even hold a construction job.
Commiserating with his bartender brother Clyde (Adam Driver), whose forearm was blown off in Iraq, Jimmy comes up with an idea. They’re gonna rob North Carolina’s Charlotte Motor Speedway – with a bit of help from their hairdresser sister Mellie (Riley Keough, Elvis’ granddaughter).
Jimmy’s worked underground at the Speedway and has inside information about the complex pneumatic tubing system that sluices cash from the souvenir and concession stands into the speedway’s vault. Seemingly dimwitted Jimmy is a man with a plan.
But he needs an explosives expert. Which is why he turns to infamous Joe Bang (scene-stealing Daniel Craig with an admirable Appalachian accent), who’s currently incarcerated in a nearby West Virginia prison. But Bang insists on including his Born Again hillbilly brothers, Sam (Brian Gleeson) and Fish (Jack Quaid, son of Meg Ryan/Dennis Quaid).
So, after a few setbacks, it’s time for the good ‘ol boys to launch their larcenous lark at NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day.
Don’t discount a sweet subplot involving Jimmy’s precocious daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie) with ex-wife (Katie Holmes), who’s competing in a Little Miss West Virginia pageant. The opening scene involves Jimmy explaining to Sadie why he loves John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”
Less effective is another subplot detour involving a pompous, loudmouth British racer (Seth McFarlane). But casting Hilary Swank and Katherine Waterston in pivotal bit parts makes up for any shortcomings.
Working from a complicated, convoluted screenplay from an ‘unknown’ writer named Rebecca Blunt (a Soderbergh pseudonym?), inventive director/cinematographer/editor Steven Soderbergh excels in lighthearted, off-kilter comedy.
And concluding disclaimer notes, “Nobody was robbed during the making of this movie. Except you.”
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Logan Lucky” is an amusing, escapist 8: “Oceans 7-Eleven.”