Sunday, September 17, 2017

Logan Lucky Movie Review: Comedy-Caper Movie From Oscar-Winning Director Stephen Soderbergh That Fails To Offer Big Laughs

STEPHEN SODERBERGH won the 2001 Oscar best director award for “Traffic”, then in 2013, after directing the Emmy-winning “Behind the Candelabra” and the forgettable thriller “Side Effects”, he announced he’d retire from directing full length films and focused on TV work. He now returns to the big screen in the movie “Logan Lucky”, a heist-comedy film that is not new to him since he has made the “Ocean’s 11 to 13” franchise before.

His dry humor is the kind best described as quirky. It reminds us of the absurd comedies of the Coen Brothers who specialize in oddball characters getting engaged in bizarre situations. For sure, local audiences who prefer slapstick will not appreciate it.

The title character is Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum, who is deglamourized here), a construction worker in West Virginia who just lost his job. He earlier dreamed of being a big football star but he injured his knee. He is basically a good man who loves his daughter very much and tries to cultivate a good relationship with his ex-wife (Katie Holmes).


He’s quite responsible in giving child support and wants to be a good provider so he can’t afford to be jobless for long. Feeling desperate for being perpetually luckless, he now wants to be Logan Lucky and plots to rob the coffers of a North Carolina speedway during a NASCAR event. They have to siphon off the money sent through an underground pneumatic tube system and is deposited into a vault.

Logan has previously worked in an excavation project under the speedway so he knows how such a daring daylight robbery can be successfully staged. He asks his bartender brother, Clyde (Adam Driver), who lost one arm while fighting as a soldier in Iraq, to help him, along with their free-spirited sister, Mellie (Riley Keogh), to act as their get away driver.

They need the help of an expert safe cracker, Joe Bang (Daniel Craig, playing against type and so totally different from his James Bond persona). The problem is that Joe is currently in prison serving a sentence, so they’ll have to cook up an elaborate plan where Joe can leave the prison, join them, and then return secretly before anyone notices that he is missing.

The movie offers some guffaws but no real laugh out loud moments. The A-list actors are actually wasted in this comedy caper that is not well realized. For one thing, you don’t really root for the characters. Later on, Hilary Swank is brought in during the meandering last half hour as an FBI investigator who wants to nail the robbers. Swank is the perfect example of an academy award winner whose Oscars (she has two for best actress, mind you) didn’t help forward her acting career at all.

No wonder it was a big flop when shown in the States, especially when it was shown simultaneously with the funnier “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” that clobbered it at the box office. Soderbergh should just have stayed retired.

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