Saturday Streaming: Logan Lucky

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If you are a person who exists, chances are you haven’t seen Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky. I can’t blame you, the marketing really didn’t do the film any favors and I waited until it came out on demand to check it out myself. Having said that, I am happy to report that it is an excellent heist movie that I can wholeheartedly recommend. I’m sacrilegiously unfamiliar with Soderbergh’s filmography but it seems to be that Lucky is as fine an introduction as any. The film is exciting, hilarious and filled with great actors giving great performances.

The Logan family, consisting of Jimmy (Channing Tatum), Clyde (Adam Driver) and Mellie (Riley Keough) lives a relatively simple life in West Virginia. After Jimmy is fired from his construction job due to an injury he received in the Iraq war, he decides to shake up his simple life and steal millions from right underneath the Charlotte Motor Speedway. His heist plan involves not only Clyde and Mellie but Joe Bang (Daniel Craig, who seems to be making the most of his opportunity to play anyone other than James Bond) and Bang’s brothers, Sam (Brian Gleeson) and Fish (Jack Quaid).

The heist itself is tense and involves a lot of clever twists and turns that should keep most audiences guessing and in suspense until it ends. What sets this movie apart is Soderbergh’s expertly established West Virginia setting. These are real characters living in a real place, with many contemporary state issues (as well as bigger issues with the whole country) being present on the sidelines of the film. Our characters are veterans who are completely lacking in opportunities because of their war injuries. Over the course of the film, we see that the water in the town is basically poisoned, the police department is working on a heavily restricted budget and even the flaws in the prison system. All of this is juxtaposed against the target of the heist, NASCAR. NASCAR is the perfect monument to American excess, with overpaid drivers being enabled by the Coca Cola corporation to race around in a circle and draw in spectators who have to pay $10 for a beer. Jimmy’s construction job being to fix sinkholes under the stadium is a perfect metaphor, as we see the foundations of a large part of American culture literally breaking down.

Soderbergh’s team ends up becoming a scrappy, likeable band of contemporary American Robin Hoods who are not only easy to root for but fun to spend time with. Channing Tatum engenders instant sympathy as Jimmy, while Driver gives another gem of a performance as the more deliberate, level headed Clyde. The two have wonderful chemistry but it is Driver in particular who proves that he is an actor we will be talking about for a long time. As previously mentioned, Daniel Craig brings a really unique energy to Joe Bang. It is easy to lean too hard on the weirdness and eccentricities of a character like Bang, who cooks up homemade explosives out of gummy bears. However, Craig knows just when to go big with certain moments, but he also knows which parts to underplay and Bang remains a believable, sympathetic character throughout the film.

I really liked this movie and I honestly thought I wouldn’t. It recently came out on many digital distribution services and, once again, I highly recommend that you check it out. Now, if you need me, I’ll be catching up on Steven Soderbergh movies.

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