Steven Soderbergh returns with the uneven ‘Logan Lucky’

Craig’s Joe Bang examines a vault while the brothers Logan look on.
Photo: Fingerprint Releasing / Courtesy

Two and a half stars

Lucky Logan Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig. Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday citywide.

Nobody really believed Steven Soderbergh in 2013 when he said that he was retiring from directing feature films, but it was still exciting to hear that he’d be returning to movies with Logan Lucky. Actually watching Logan Lucky, though, dissipates a lot of that excitement, and if it weren’t Soderbergh’s comeback movie, it would be a relatively minor blip in his long and varied filmography.

A heist comedy that directly recalls Soderbergh’s Ocean’s trilogy, Lucky is the inversion of the slick, high-end robberies of those star-studded studio features. It’s still star-studded (a few years away haven’t diminished Soderbergh’s ability to attract talent), but it’s set deep in red-state territory, where the heist masterminds are a pair of marginally employed working-class brothers.

Channing Tatum and Adam Driver play Jimmy and Clyde Logan, who conspire to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina on the day of its biggest NASCAR race. They enlist the expected crew of oddballs to help them pull off the job, including Daniel Craig as incarcerated safecracker Joe Bang (whom they have to break out of—and then back into—prison). The actors mostly lean hard on comical redneck accents (Craig in particular seems to be relishing the chance to poke holes in his James Bond image), and the slow-moving plot features way too many leaps of logic, even for a genre that is more or less fantasy.

Tatum, a Soderbergh favorite who’s also one of the movie’s producers, knows how to play a good-hearted lunkhead, and Driver provides a nicely sardonic counterpoint, but they’re no George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Supporting actors including Seth MacFarlane and Hilary Swank (who shows up in the tacked-on final act as an FBI agent) try way too hard to give their characters wacky personas, and most of the humor is forced. As usual, Soderbergh serves as his own cinematographer and editor, but the visual style is unremarkable, and the final reveal is confusingly constructed. Still, it’s good to have Soderbergh back, making whatever odd movies strike his fancy, even if they don’t all turn out brilliantly.

Tags: Film
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