The Bock’s Office: ‘Logan Lucky’ a hapless hick heist movie
August 24, 2017
Preconceived notions tend to stick around in a region where NASCAR is a religion, yet "Logan Lucky" shows you can't jump to conclusions about the South quite as quickly as you might want.
The Logan family, of West Virginia, is no stranger to hard times, but lately, Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum), has had more than his share of mishaps.
His temporary excavation job at the Charlotte Motor Speedway has just been terminated due to little more than red tape, and,he’s just received news that his ex-wife (Katie Holmes) is planning to move his daughter (Farrah Mackenzie) out of the state. Life just doesn't seem that fair.
Nevertheless, he's got a plan in mind to even out some of the injustices he's been dealt, a scheme for a robbery of the same establishment that just gave him the axe.
Using his inside knowledge of the building's infrastructure and assembling a crew with his siblings, Clyde and Mellie (Adam Driver, Riley Keough), and a family friend and explosives expert, (Daniel Craig), Jimmy's timetable looks headed for success to pull off a heist just small enough to go barely noticed.
But, that Logan luck rears its ugly head again, when a change in schedule means the only way to get anything done is to strike on the speedway's biggest weekend: the Coca-Cola 600.
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Tatum draws on his own Southern roots to craft a hero who, like Burt Reynolds so often did back in the day, captures hearts as the noblest of rednecks, a former football star hit hard by reality who still puts family first, even in the middle of a profoundly stupid idea.
Joining him in the country-fried confusion is Driver as his superstitious brother, wary about going down a bad path and having enough to deal with as the result of losing his forearm in Iraq. Still, when the call of duty comes …
By the way, the code word is "cauliflower."
Who would have thought that Keough, the eldest grandchild of Elvis Presley, would be the most subdued personality here as a skilled, soft-spoken getaway driver?
Craig's manic turn as a peroxide-blond prisoner named Joe Bang — seriously — is one of the stronger points of a cast of characters who, for all their idiosyncrasies, are small potatoes, from Bang's halfwit brothers (Brian Gleeson, Jack Quaid) to a hard-nosed FBI investigator (Hilary Swank) to a buffoonish British tycoon (Seth MacFarlane) and the level-headed racecar driver (Sebastian Stan) he sponsors.
From despotic prison wardens to cute-as-a-junebug child beauty pageant contestants to gossipy old ladies at the beauty parlor, there's no shortage of upper-South archetypes thrown into the mix here, with the occasional social commentary snuck in by screenwriter Rebecca Blunt.
The direction by Steven Soderbergh is a return to form to the "Ocean's" trilogy but with far lower stakes and a pacing that doesn't exactly demand much attention. There's a lot of buildup before we start getting to the good stuff, and that seems intentional.
The tone is deceptively dumb, a showcase of hicksploitation that, midway through the action, begins to display that maybe some of these folks are brighter than they're given credit.
Well, at least the ones who aren't bobbing for pickled pig's feet and using toilet lids in a horseshoe toss.
"Logan Lucky" has too much going on in a story that could be streamlined considerably, though the troupe of actors makes it a better watch than it really is. If you can get that many laughs out of a prosthetic arm, you must be doing something right.