Over his nearly thirty year career, few directors have shown similar levels of versatility and skill as Steven Soderbergh. Whether its a deep study of the war on drugs in Traffic or a thoughtful examination of a male stripper in Magic Mike, Soderbergh has proven he can do it all as a writer and director.
After taking a semi-retirement from film for four years, Soderbergh is back in the director’s chair for Logan Lucky. The film follows a pair of brothers who are down on their luck. They decide to change that by planning to pull of a heist at the North Carolina NASCAR track.
Soderbergh has dipped his toe into the heist genre before, most notably with the wildly entertaining Ocean’s trilogy. Even after an extended break, Soderbergh is back and better than ever, crafting a southern-fried romp that is among one of the year’s most entertaining flicks.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that one of the most charismatic and talented ensemble casts of the year is featured here. Channing Tatum continues to prove himself as one of Hollywood’s most underrated talents, proving to be a personable and earnest lead with some strong comedic chops. Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Riley Keough are all impressive as well, delivering naturalistic performances while still having a lot of fun in their roles. I credit the whole cast for also nailing the tough southern accent, never seeming like caricatures. Credit to supporting players like Seth McFarlane, Sebastian Stan, and Kaite Holmes for being quite good in their bit parts.
When it comes to the heist genre, few imbue such technique and style as Soderbergh. Even with a film that plays out mostly comedically, he is still able to build up a lot of excitement and tension through inventive edits and dynamic camera work. He builds a sense of momentum, and that momentum becomes infectious to watch. Soderbergh deserves a lot of credit as well to his approach to these characters, as despite their somewhat buffoonish tendencies are never looked down upon or made to be unrealistic. There is a real earnestness to the movie, and it becomes surprisingly moving at points in the third act.
Logan Lucky is easily one of the year’s most entertaining films. Credit to Soderbergh and screenwriter Rebecca Blunt (who is apparently a pseudonym for a real person) for crafting a script that features a bevy of big laughs. Much of the humor derives less from jokes and more so from just how the situations spin wildly out of control, but its all extremely entertaining. Despite its lack of budget, this truly is the best crowd pleasing film of the summer.
That’s not to say the film is perfect however, as its fair to say there is some messiness is the script. There are a lot of side characters and subplots that don’t end up going anywhere, with Hilary Swank’s arc in the final third in particular being questionable. The third act in general is nowhere near as strong as the rest of the film, as the pace slows down dramatically to try and wrap everything in a nice bow.
Logan Lucky is popcorn filmmaking at its most skilled and exciting, as it finds Soderbergh and his all-star cast delivering a wildly entertaining ride.