Logan Lucky is an interesting variance on the Hollywood practice of making movies that are sequels, or remakes of popular films of the past. Director Steven Soderbergh has put a new twist on that strategy. He gives us, in Logan Lucky, a replay of his successful Ocean’s Eleven (2001) that takes place in a different world.
The Ocean’s series (-11, -12, -13) are centered in Las Vegas with upscale surroundings and characters. Those characters (Clooney, Pitt, Damon, et al.) are sophisticated, educated, well-dressed, smart thieves. In Logan Lucky, the characters are located in rebel country, West Virginia and North Carolina. They are basically uneducated, poorly employed — or just poor.
Channing Tatum is Jimmy Logan. He has just lost his job as the operator of earth-moving equipment because he limps, due to a football injury.
The company does not want to risk the insurance liability if he should be injured on the job. He was working on a large underground operation beneath the NASCAR stadium in Charlotte, NC.
Jimmy is lamenting his bad luck with his brother, Clyde, who is the bartender at the Duck Tape saloon. Clyde (Adam Driver) is a stoic, humorless character who lost an arm in the Iraq war. They come up with the idea of robbing the raceway at the major event occurring on Memorial Day.
There will be millions of dollars from the box offices and betting windows. Jimmy knows a lot about the feeding system that carries the cash from above to the underground vaults. Their sister, Mellie (Riley Keough), gets in on the plan and she is anxious to help.
The Logans contact a well-known bank robber who can provide all the technical know-how needed to do the job. He is aptly named Joe Bang, played hilariously by Daniel Craig (yes, the James Bond player). He’s in prison with another five months to go in his sentence.
He tells the Logans they will have to get him out of the pen, pull off the heist and return him to his cell to finish his sentence. Joe also specifies that they must include his two brothers in the caper — Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson.
They are more roughhewn than the Logan boys, but they seem to be experts at the nefarious tasks needed in this job.
All the players are portrayed perfectly as redneck southern boys with deep, very deep, drawls. (At times, one could wish for subtitles to hear and understand all the dialog.) The situations faced by Jimmy and Clyde and their cohorts often become ridiculous, but they climb over those spots which brings humor to the film.
The heist itself is a bit long and complex, but ultimately perfectly executed. That includes fooling the security staff and disarming the alarm system. But when it’s all over, where’s the money? Logan Lucky has a few surprises for us as it concludes, but it does not get dull in between.
Logan Lucky is at Harkins Sedona 6 Theater.