Having been fired from his job fixing sinkholes underneath the Charlotte Motor Speedway, Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) makes a heist plan to rob the speedway during a popular NASCAR race, alongside his one-armed brother Clyde (Adam Driver) and demolitions expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), who they break out of prison. Jimmy also has to be there for his young daughter, clashing with his ex-wife Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes).
Having seen the trailer for this film several times before many a cinema visit, I was eagerly anticipating Logan Lucky; it looked like an absolute riot of a film with an impressive ensemble cast that looked to provide some light relief, perhaps getting me more interested in Stephen Soderbergh’s films and maybe giving me that extra incentive to finally see Ocean’s Eleven! But sadly, despite its high overall critical praise, this film was a massive disappointment for me.
The film’s main problems are its pacing, low energy levels (lower than the trailer would suggest anyway) and uneven tone; pacing is a definite issue in this film as it is gruellingly slow and so boring, especially in the first half, and any moments of pizzazz and high octane drama are few and far between. In addition, many of the main characters are actually quite low-energy and their constant blank expressions and slow, drawling speech keep the film going at a sluggish pace, failing to provide the electric energy levels needed for an entertaining heist movie. I would say that Soderbergh’s direction is flawed as he lets the film drag at a regrettably low-energy pace and the tone is a little all over the place; Logan Lucky attempts to be a silly, madcap comedy, a clever, unconventional heist movie and a sweet, touching family drama about a father/daughter relationship but none of these are successfully achieved and in the end, the film just doesn’t know what it wants to be.
On a related note, Rebecca Blunt’s story and script are also flawed as there are a number of plot holes and proper character motivation and development is lacking; the plot often becomes incoherent as Jimmy’s motivation for pulling the job in the first place is not once properly looked at, the “computer hacking” brothers do absolutely nothing with computers at all, and “the team” apparently manage to do the job with minimal planning and in a very short amount of time. Even for a heist movie, many of the plot developments are ridiculous and hard to accept, especially the idea that they could sneak a guy out of prison but then manage to effortlessly sneak him back in. In firefigher uniforms which they miraculously found and were able to put on in no time at all. The film’s final act is also problematic as it introduces a post-heist investigation that proves to be completely irrelevant and it all ends on a “twist” that makes little to no sense at all, ending the film with a whimper that left this audience member truly peeved, confused and disappointed.
Comedy-wise, the humour is in very short supply and I truly believe that the trailer was funnier by far; the problem is that ALL the best jokes, as well as the major plot developments, are in the trailer so the film unmistakably just seems like a full-length version of its own trailer. Granted, there are a few unexpected developments which prove to be kind of humorous but overall, Logan Lucky isn’t funny enough by far and the inconsistent direction and writing makes for a regrettably low-energy, boring, joyless film. Even “All the Twitters”, which cracked me up every time I heard it in the trailer, landed like a damp squib in the film!
Admittedly, Logan Lucky does have an insanely impressive ensemble cast full of recognisable names; rattling them off, we have Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Katie Holmes, Riley Keogh, Seth MacFarlane, Katherine Waterston, Sebastian Stan and Hilary Swank but none of them really have anything to work with and many of them feel quite wasted in their roles. The central Logan brothers aren’t that interesting and are regrettably rather blank and disposable, their “curse” proving irrelevant in the long run; Tatum and Driver do the best they can but ultimately, their constant blank expressions and slow, deliberate speech become irksome quite quickly. Katherine Waterston is simply a cameo appearance, participating in a couple of scenes that are totally meaningless and inconsequential, Seth MacFarlane once again proves that he can’t handle live-action, playing an English-accented . . . something or other . . . who, like Waterston, gives the film some more meaningless scenes that could very well have been cut from the film, and Hilary Swank, brought in right at the end, plays a tough-looking, but overall incompetent, FBI agent who investigates for a little bit and is then quickly taken off the case, in that troublesome third act that goes absolutely nowhere.
But Daniel Craig is the MVP by default, having fun playing the film’s most interesting character, bleached blonde demolitions expert Joe Bang. Giving us something quite different to what we’ve seen him in before, Craig is the film’s primary source of energy and he handles the both the comedic and tough elements of his character very well, although Joe Bang is not nearly as manic and outrageous as the trailer would suggest. Overall, the cast try their best with what they’ve been given but, besides Joe Bang, there are no properly interesting characters and they’re all pretty generic, dull and devoid of personality.
At the end of the day, it’s difficult to figure out just what Logan Lucky actually is; it’s not exciting or clever enough to be a heist movie, it doesn’t have nearly enough laughs to be a comedy, and the whole emotional family drama is trite, directionless and incredibly difficult to actually get invested in. I suppose that Stephen Soderbergh is destined to be one of those directors that I just don’t get; Behind the Candelabra remains my favourite film of his by default.