Everyone’s been heralding the return of Steven Soderbergh after a four-year hiatus from filmmaking, and with good reason, considering this exquisite little film. Logan Lucky seems, to me, to be the fourth-time-is-a-charm version of Soderbergh’s Oceans trilogy.
I’ve tried watching two of the Oceans films online, and didn’t make it through either one. They were just way too much of a snooze – the humor too elegant, the action/suspense too subdued. Imagine my surprise to find that “subdued” works if there are hillbillies involved.
Because this is not the hee-haw, slapstick movie that the trailers suggest – although such moments do, thank heaven, occur. But the humor in Logan Lucky is, for the most part, like a low-level burn, where you get the joke after it happened, and it was hilarious – or, all of a sudden, in the middle of a long, baffling scene, you realize that the last several minutes have been a total scream, and your own cluelessness kind of takes your breath away.
“The humor in Logan Lucky is, for the most part, like a low-level burn . . .”
In a very involved, classic kind of Robin Hood plot, Channing Tatum, as Jimmy Logan, has been laid off a construction job for having a preexisting condition, which some executive spotted, watching him limp across the parking lot after work. He is determined to steal from the NASCAR conglomerate – a perfect development – not to get revenge so much as to make things right for himself and his little girl. All the perfections and intricacies of an Oceans-type plot ensue.
There are so many scenes that should be mayhem that are, in fact, subdued, understated, and . . . well . . . elegant that I can’t begin to list them, or risk giving away too much of the hidden treasures and pleasures of the script. But keep your eye out for the minimalist way that Adam Driver as Clyde Logan, Jimmy’s brother, takes offense at every innocent word his brother utters in a bar scene, or the low-key manner in which Daniel Craig, as Joe Bang, turns to the cinder block wall behind him to chalk up the chemical composition of the explosive device he’s about to use.
That both of these scenes are followed by elegant, restrained, and comically perfectly timed explosions shouldn’t be giving away too much. There’s plenty more gold where that comes from.
Quite a bit of the action takes place in the huge, cavernous confines beneath the Charlotte Motor Speedway, where capsules containing wads of cash whiz through omnipresent pneumatic tubes, sounding vaguely like racecars, except more subdued and ghostly. Is this a thing?, I wondered. Is this really what the basement of the Charlotte Motor Speedway looks and sounds like?
“If someone created this subterranean world out of whole cloth, I wish I had half his or her imagination.”
I tend to doubt it, although it does make a peculiar kind of sense. At any rate, the whole thing is just precious, and if someone created this subterranean world out of whole cloth, I wish I had half his or her imagination.
It’s a complex, hilarious, at times touching movie, with a delightful, familiar cast who absolutely outdo themselves in roles that depart from their usual fare. If you’re looking to see one last great movie of the summer, this is the one not to miss.