Steven Soderbergh doesn’t miss a beat with ‘Logan Lucky’

The title, Logan Lucky, seems quite apropos considering how lucky Steven Soderbergh was to receive this gift of a screenplay. Not to diminish the talent of Soderbergh, but if you believe that the strength of a film rides on its writing, than this is the film anyway would want to be their first film after a 3-year hiatus.

This is a movie even Soderbergh knew was within his scope of talent, considering it is antithesis to the romanticized heist films he has created with the wildly successful Ocean’s Eleven remake and ensuing franchise. Even the film defines the events that took place as “Ocean’s 7-11.”

Logan Lucky stars Channing Tatum as Jimmy Logan, a recently out of work construction employee. It doesn’t seem out of malice or revenge, but his next idea for scoring big bucks is to rob the race track that he had recently been doing construction on. He recruits his brother (Adam Driver) a firm believer in the fabled “Logan curse” which continually haunts Tatum and Driver’s family. Both of these characters are missing body parts due to tours in the Middle East and one minor character points out rather correctly that if you put the brothers together, you would have one complete person. It’s not a farfetched view, objectively. But this is a movie of improbable smarts between the two and Soderbergh fools you, just as well, into thinking that there is no way these good ‘ol boys can pull of the kind of robbery they want to pull off.

The boys also recruit an nearly unrecognizable Daniel Craig, who goes by the name Joe Bang, out of prison who would play the demolitions expert in an Ocean’s film. Along with the dimwits that play Craig’s brothers, Sam (Brian Gleeson) and Fish (Jack Quaid) as well as a car-savvy Logan sister, Mellie (Riley Keough), the characters are set to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The film continually has an eye towards its end goal, it is a straight-shooting movie that almost never strays off the beaten path. As I mentioned before, there really is no emotional reason to why Jimmy Logan wants to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway other than the fact that he knows how the money flows directly from the cash registers to the bank vault via PTT tubes. He never once mentions how he is doing this for his daughter or how he is struggling to make ends meet. In fact, the Bang brothers are the only ones who demand an emotional (in their words, “moral”) reason to commit the robbery. It’s odd to come to this conclusion, but without an emotional component to committing a robbery, it almost makes it seem more logical. This is a trick that not many screenwriters would have thought of, but screenwriter Rebecca Blunt (let’s be honest, its probably Soderbergh’s wife, Julia Asner)  has faith that the emotion comes from other places, or none at all.

Its a wonder that a woman wrote this. It is a guys film from its actors to its plot to its shooting locations. Sometimes these types of movies need a woman’s touch. Think how much of a guy film the original Point Break is, then remember that it was a woman, Kathryn Bigelow, who directed it. Women have the power to get to the roots of characters in films that any male director would portray as an unhinged testosterone-fest. Not only is Blunt’s screenplay better than any male could have written it, but I think Soderbergh is too talented of a director to allow an all-out slugfest.

The movie moves from one improbably scene to the next. The more I write this review, the more I love it. How often do we get a film about dimwitted hicks who end up wowing us with their smarts. I’ve seen films about smart people and how smart they are: I’ve seen films about heists; I’ve seen films about dumb people; I’ve seen films about how hard it is in the lower class. Until now, I don’t think I’ve seen many films like Logan Lucky. The only other film I can think that can compare to the type of film this is would be Fargo. That’s a very honorable comparison.

And the more I wish more people saw it with me in the theaters. I just finished reading an article on hoe this summer featured some of the lowest numbers for box office films. Granted, we were greeted with flat-out failures such as The Mummy and The Dark Tower. But there were some solid winners, such as Wonder WomanDunkirk, and now I want to add Logan Lucky to that list.

I’m still anxious to see what Oscar season will bring, but I believe this is one of my favorite movies this year.

Rating:  (perfect score)

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