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Movie Review: #LoganLucky

The white-trash hilarity of Logan Lucky makes for a wonderful viewing experience.

Review by Matt Cummings

Ah, White Trash where have you been in 2017 movies? Your bacchanalian ways, highly questionable fashion choices, and deep Southern accents have been sorely missed during one of the worst box office summers in 20 years. And while the comedy Logan Lucky will make absolutely no money upon its release, the film deserves high praise for its excellent direction, stellar cast, and whip-smart writing.

Having just been fired from his construction job due, hick Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) is searching desperately for a way to see his daughter while his ex-wife (Katie Holmes) has moved in with a local car dealer who doesn't seem to know how to drive stick shifts. Jimmy's sister (Riley Keough) is also concerned that Jimmy's days as a pro-football prospect might be his best. But Jimmy's brother Kyle (Adam Driver) hasn't given up, even though he himself is sidelined by a war injury that has left his arm missing. He's soon rewarded by learning that Jimmy plans a massive theft of cash from an upcoming NASCAR race and soon jumps aboard to assist. To win the day, he'll need the services of none other than prisoner Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), a blonde-haired explosives genius who's is shocked to learn that the brothers intend to break him out...then put him back in to finish his prison term. As the day of the race unfolds, the team will hurriedly check off items from Jimmy's list, before learning that Jimmy himself is way ahead of them.

Director Steven Soderbergh is no stranger to the quirky heist film, having given us the stylish and still relevant remake of Ocean's Eleven. That movie redefined the genre, sparking a renewed sense of Vegas cool that hadn't been around since Swingers. And while Logan isn't likely to renew Hick Culture any time soon, it still succeeds because it so perfectly adds that element to its DNA. Tatum and Driver are great together, making stupid almost seem acceptable; they work really well off each other, elevating Writer Rebecca Blunt's sometimes not-as-funny-as-it-could-be script with a genuine sense of hillbilly charm. Soderbergh excels at bringing great casts together, giving each major character enough on-screen time to develop their characters, but also forcing them to work with others to achieve success. If you had any doubt of Tatum's abilities after his 2011's The Eagle and 2015's Fox Catcher, you won't have them after watching Logan Lucky.

The real winner here is Craig, who returns to his once-trademark independency, imbuing Joe Bang with both a seriously wonderful Southern drawl and complete brilliance when it comes to bomb making. One scene in particular - perhaps my favorite - shows Bang explaining the physics of explosives to the Logans as they stand there dumbfounded by him. He's done Bond, been a hitman in Road to Perdition, and served the Pope in Elizabeth, but it's possible that Logan Lucky will win him praise long after he's done in Hollywood, and I hope they pay attention. If there's one (other) problem with Blunt's script it's that so few female actors here get a chance to shine. Keough gets the better of it, while Waterston is in a grand total of three scenes which could have been portrayed by anyone. Holmes doesn't get to do much here, but there's clearly no doubt that her stint on television has improved her acumen.

And still, Logan Lucky is destined to make no money. Not exactly filled with big Summer stunts, it hangs precariously adrift in a late-August timeslot that doesn't help its chances. Too high for the teen crowd and a little too low for the Ocean's Eleven, the film doesn't exactly appeal to four-key demographic marketers. And yet, Logan Lucky should be a film you check out, not because it somehow does the genre fresh, but because it serves as something that most Summer films couldn't muster: make it competent and entertaining, a little smart, and a lot funny.

Logan Lucky should appeal to moviegoers. But then again, we've seen this summer how audiences' preferences seem to depend on which way the wind blows. Take a chance on this one, and you'll be handsomely rewarded with great casting, fun plot twists, and enough smart humor to remind you of the better 2016 The Nice Guys, which seems poised to replace it as Most Underappreciated Film of 2017. Just don't be surprised if you're joined by Hick Culture, who might have confused the slick ads with a gathering for Single Cowboy dating services.

Logan Lucky is rated PG-13 for language and some crude comments and has a runtime of 119 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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