This review originally ran on July 24th. With Logan Lucky hitting theaters, we are rerunning it.
Steven Soderbergh just knows everyone is going to compare Logan Lucky to his previous three Oceans movies (as I just did in the title of this piece). He knows it so much, he’s already beat a lot of funny headlines to the punch. This new heist movie about two West Virginia brothers (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) and their sister (Riley Keough) who rob a bank during a NASCAR race has a scene in which we hear a newscaster say, “Locals are calling this Oceans 7-Eleven.” The reporter then lists off a few more zingers. Now that is called beating people to the punch.
So I can only suspect Soderbergh had a couple of reservations about doing another heist movie, then just decided, Oh, so what?.
Channing Tatum plays Jimmy Logan, a former high school quarterback and homecoming king who missed his shot at the NFL due to a bum leg and now works construction jobs. His current gig is working underneath the Charlotte Motor Speedway, repairing sinkholes. Unfortunately, he’s let go from this job when his company discovers he has a pre-existing medical condition (that bum leg again; also: timely!) and the company thinks this would be a liability to them. But, while he was there, he discovered the Speedway has a series of underground tubes that connect to a bank vault – and he’s got a plan.
Jimmy enlists his brother, Clyde (Driver), a veteran who is missing his right hand that he lost in battle. They need a safe expert, so they enlist a safecracker named Joe Bang (Joe Bang!), played by Daniel Craig. (My gosh, Daniel Craig looks like he’s having the time of his life not playing James Bond.) Joe Bang needs his two brothers involved, Sam Bang and Fish Bang (Fish Bang!) – while the Logans recruit their sister, Mellie (Keough). Alright, we got ourselves a team for a heist!
Well, with one problem: Joe Bang is in prison. So there’s this elaborate scheme to get Joe Bang (a) out of prison, (b) do the job, then (c) back into prison before anyone realizes he’s missing. To do this, it involves the other prisoners rioting and making demands that are impossible to meet as a stalling tactic (this involves one of the best Game of Thrones jokes I’ve seen in a movie). If any of this sounds familiar, it’s pretty much the plot of the 1990 Jim Belushi film, Taking Care of Business. Only in that, Jim Belushi wasn’t leaving prison to rob a bank, he just wanted to see a Cubs World Series game. (And a short 26 years later, Jim Belushi’s dream would become a reality.)
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a subplot involving a character named Max Chilblain – the sort of character who shows up and you instantly hate. He’s “social media famous” and brags about his millions of followers while promoting some sort of swill. He shows up numerous times during Logan Lucky – which usually results in him being beat up by Jimmy Logan (they are not friends). Why I mention this character is I had absolutely no idea that he was played by Seth MacFarlane until after I saw the movie. The fake hair and mustache and British accent totally fooled me. Now, I don’t want to sit here and write about how surprisingly great MacFarlane is in Logan Lucky, because every time this character was on the screen I wanted to punch him (he gets punched a lot) – but the fact that I felt what was the desired emotion and that I had no idea it was MacFarlane … well, I have to at least admit he did his job well. I am shocked.
Good gravy, this movie is a good time. And I’m so happy Steven Soderbergh is back at it, doing what he wants to do. And good on him for making another heist movie. Heist movies are fun! And Soderbergh is, in particular, very good at making heist movies. And here, he hits all the beats he hits in making his Oceans movies, even with a fun little switcheroo at the end that shows us how everything was done, accompanied by cool music, just like in Oceans 11. Soderbergh knows you’re going to refer to this movie as a “Redneck Oceans,” or whatever, and he seems very okay with that — and he’s already taken all the best jokes.
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