“Logan Lucky” is Steven Soderbergh‘s widely predicted return from the realm of retirement. This is his first film since 2013 and a welcome revisit to the classic heist movie, but with a deep-fried southern twist. The film follows two West Virginia brothers from Boone County who attempt a robbery during the biggest NASCAR race of the year. With break-ins and break-outs, little explosions and large impositions, this is a big budget studio script that is shot like an art film. It feels like it was funded by a pair of disappointed rich parents who don’t understand how good the final product actually is.
Channing Tatum and Adam Driver‘s pairing as the Logans, who suspect a family curse plagues them, along with Daniel Craig as “Joe Bang,” a character who can be described as MacGyver meets the Joker, makes up part of a fantastic ensemble that populates the film. It feels like everyone had fun making this movie, and this feeling is so apparent that it genuinely makes the film a lot of fun to watch. Side characters and main players alike get their moment, sweet or sour, and everything feels integral to the story. Craig’s twitchy inmate, who has a knack for explosives, steals the show with an equally explosive energy that only few performers could hope to match. I can’t remember a time where I’ve seen him get to play with a role like this, where he is able to romp around the script like a verbal monkey. It was an absolute pleasure to watch.
The almost cartoonish cast of characters creates a happy little bubble to get lost in for a couple of hours, a bubble that would make even Bob Ross a little jealous. It’s not a deep inward journey, it’s not mind blowingly clever, or even all that moving. However, if you don’t have at least a bit of a good time watching it, then someone hurt you long ago and you need some healing. The flow of the story and the way Soderbergh controls information creates a feeling of dragging in the pacing of the film. Where watching it twice makes everything click right from the start, the first time around might make it seem like you’re watching a much less visually-generous film.
The choice for an unconventional distribution of the film in order to retain creative control perfectly mirrors the rebellion of the film’s plot. Raising the budget by selling off foreign distribution rights, and then paying for advertising and prints of the film by selling all of the post-theatrical rights, Soderbergh was able to cut out Hollywood studio interference and hold onto creative control for not only the film itself, but for the trailers, poster, and the entire marketing plan. Along with doing all of the cinematography under a pseudonym, as he’s known to do, and likely having written the film under a fake name as well, this film is yet another tour de force for the auteur director to flex his creative muscles. Hopefully it will help blaze a trail to lead creative control back into the arms of the creators and artists.
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