Logan Lucky, the newest from Steven Soderbergh of the Ocean’s trilogy, tries incredibly hard to not be Ocean’s 11. Instead of flashy suits and waxed hair, the heroes here wear camo pants and trucker hats. Instead of sending a world-class gymnast through a casino vault, they send a bag of gummy bears under a NASCAR speedway. Instead of light jazz constantly in the background, Logan Lucky mostly keeps the music quiet, occasionally injecting a little bit of blues rock. Ocean’s 11 reveled in the excesses of the 1%, while Logan Lucky spends its time in the “forgotten” America. But the most important difference is that the Ocean’s movies, as disposable as they may well be, moved, whereas Logan Lucky is a weirdly muted, low-energy affair. It certainly doesn’t pander to the audience, but given that it doesn’t really succeed as a drama either, a raceway heist movie should certainly be more entertaining than this.
For a movie that at one points gives a ten-year old a spray tan, Logan Lucky is rife with weird tonal mismatches. Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, and Riley Keough all underplay as the titular cursed Logan family, seemingly to avoid rural simpleton stereotypes, but the film also introduces the ne’er do-well Bang brothers who lean heavily into the exact same tropes, including a pretty painful (and, at the end of the day, pointless) conversation about computer skills. The third Bang brother, played by Daniel Craig, certainly gets the best scenes in the movie, but most of those are on display in the trailer. Meanwhile, Hilary Swank shows up after a while with a tone that crosses well into self-parody, and Seth MacFarlane was shockingly allowed on set and even more shockingly allowed to put on a ridiculous British accent. In the astonishly oddly paced leadup to the speedway robbery, we spend some time with MacFarlane and a driver played by Sebastian Stan who calls food “software”, all of which adds up to precisely nothing and contributes precisely zero to the mood, comedy, or energy of the film.
This is a film in search of itself at every step, as it has all the ingredients in play to actually be a good bit of fun. As a comedy, it has a couple good scenes (the aforementioned gummy bears pay off well, and a Game of Thrones-related negotiation is a deadpan work of art), but swings and misses obviously far too often. As a heist, it leaves open too many plot holes by its end, which would be forgivable if it was more fun along the way. As an ode to rural America as told through heisting, Hell or High Water explored the same ground to much greater effect last year. As a portrait of a particular family at a particular time, it betrays its chance to make a point in its last five minutes in a really feeble attempt to give the audience something to cheer for. Logan Lucky just sits there, playing itself out without really caring if we’re with it or not.
Hell, at least Joe Bang is one hell of a character name.
Logan Lucky (2016)
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keough, and Daniel Craig
Rotten Tomatoes (93%)