★ ★ ★ ☆
Director Steven Soderbergh’s biggest box office came courtesy of the glossy “Ocean’s Eleven” series. His new film sees him revisit similar territory but don’t expect a carbon copy of his biggest hits. “Logan Lucky” is a down-home “Ocean's Eleven” where some good old boys plan a robbery, but the slickness of the franchise films has been left in the vault.
Channing Tatum is Jimmy Logan, former quarterback and Homecoming King whose glory days are in the rear view mirror. Divorced but devoted to his daughter. He’s now a West Virginia miner laid off from his job of filling in sinkholes at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, home of one of the biggest NASCAR races on the circuit.
His brother Clyde (Adam Driver), a bartender and Iraq War vet whose hand was blown off by an IED, chalks up the job loss to a family curse. The Unlucky Logans have a history of misfortune, one that Jimmy hopes to turn around.
Enlisting his sister Mellie (Riley Keough) and the Bang Brothers, the bleach blonde Joe (Daniel Craig), Sam (Brian Gleeson) and Fish (Jack Quaid), he comes up with an elaborate plan to rob the vault at the Speedway on the busiest weekend of the year.
“Logan Lucky” is a carefully plotted caper flick—although some of the elements of the labyrinthine heist are a little too perfect, relying too much on movie coincidences to be believable—but it’s a loose film with an indie feel. The stars are big but this isn’t a big film. Unlike the sleek “Ocean’s” films, the style of “Logan Lucky” suits its subject. It feels like handmade, blue-collar filmmaking.
Soderbergh’s looseness trickles down to the actors. Tatum and Craig seem to be having the best time, as Driver amps up the sincerity as the younger brother so desperate to live up to big bro’s legacy that he enlisted in the army. Once again (after “American Honey) Keough proves she is a formidable actor and not just Elvis Presley’s grandfather while “Family Guy’s” Seth MacFarlane is suitably smarmy as the owner of a power drink company. Their combined efforts keeps things grounded even when as the caper grows more and more outrageous.
“Logan Lucky” feels like a throwback to the 90s indie scene that made Soderbergh an in-demand filmmaker in the first place. From the Tarantino-esque script—the pop culture references and “Game of Thrones” riffs—to the eye level characters it’s a welcome return.
3 ½ STARS