Logan Lucky - 2017
Logan Lucky is the return of writer-director Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s 11,12&13, Traffic & Magic Mike) from his four-year “retirement” of feature-length films. He walked away from them after being dissatisfied with the studio system in Hollywood and focused of the side of TV (The Knick & The Girlfriend Experience). The movie boasts a stellar cast with Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and Daniel Craig leading the way. The supporting cast is comprised of Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, Seth MacFarlane, Macon Blair and Hilary Swank. The story centers around a heist attempt during a NASCAR race in North Carolina.
Steven Soderbergh can be considered a melding of arthouse and mainstream filmmaking. When you read the plots from most of his movies, they tend to sound like a good “shove popcorn in your face” type of movie. But his execution of them and what he chooses to focus on within the plot tends to lean more arthouse than mainstream. Take Magic Mike for example. The plot was male stripper trying to save money to get out of the stripping game. The execution: depression-filled, drug-selling strippers trying to make it out alive. I guess what I’m trying to say is, this movie, while still being one of his more mainstream movies since Ocean’s, can be a little “artsy” for some in the audience.
Quick note: if you LOVE John Denver, then you’re in for a treat.
Soderbergh was the director, the writer, the producer and the cinematographer for this movie. It’s easy to say that it’s impressive how effortlessly he makes it seem as he shines on all fronts. The writing could be better, but still was an overall great script. There are some elements of the heist that felt unnecessary in the grand-scheme and I’m not 100% sure that upon second viewing all of them will make sense. But the heist was still ingenious and entertaining. The biggest flaw comes from motivation. Yes, their motivation was, “I don’t have money, I want money”, but I never felt invested in the movie. There wasn’t an antagonist I wanted them to win against, like in Ocean’s, or an injustice NASCAR did to them that they wanted to rectify. While this won’t necessarily turn every audience member off, I just felt disconnected from the action.
One of the best elements of this movie was the cinematography. Soderbergh has always shined in shot composition and Logan Lucky is no exception. He continues to show a vast understanding on where the camera needs to be placed to get the perfect shot. He makes simple conversations seem interesting by the way he frames his actors and the elements that surround them.
The characters can be divided into three categories. Category one: “funny-accent with a quirky personality”. Within this category we have Craig, Swank, MacFarlane and Driver, to name a few. The winner of this category is Driver. He plays Clyde Logan, an Army veteran who lost his arm… correction, his forearm and hand during the war. Driver gave his character a mountain of subtle quirks and mannerisms that humanized him and allowed me to understand everything he was thinking and feeling. Category two: “normal-accent with a straight-forward personality”. Within this category we have Tatum, Keough, Blair and new comer Farrah Mackenzie. While I liked Tatum, I loved little Farrah Mackenzie who plays his daughter. She gave the movie the very needed emotional anchor to ground the movie. Category three: the supporting characters, and the clear-cut winner was the prison Warden played by Dwight Yoakam. He was simply hilarious.
Quick note: MacFarlane almost ruined the movie for me. He wanted to play a Family Guy caricature and felt out of place within the movie.
Logan Lucky is funny, smart and entertaining, with the cinematography being the gem. The acting overall is solid, some shine more than others, and they may even gain some award buzz. Safe to say that Soderbergh made a successful return to the big screen and I hope we don’t have to wait another four years for the next. Driver explaining that he didn’t lose his arm, he lost his hand and forearm, is why I love movies.
Logan Lucky is currently playing in theaters. You should be so lucky to go and watch it. So close again to pun free review. One day…
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