Just like his retirement, you’d be fooled if you thought the jig was up for Steven Soderbergh and his impeccable skill from pulling the wool over our eyes, like he’s done so many times before. Ten years since the end of his Ocean’s trilogy and four since he called it a so-called day, he’s back again reuniting with his present poster boy Channing Tatum for Logan Lucky. Marking their fourth collaboration that has the wit and humour he used to take down Las Vegas with George Clooney, only this time with a bleached blonde Bond and a Star Wars villain in tow.
Ditching the diamond-cut physique he displayed in Magic Mike, Tatum proves he is human after all, donning the trucker t-shirt and a keg and not a six-pack as down on his luck Jimmy Logan, a recently canned construction worker whose life is falling apart at the news that his ex-wife is taking their daughter one town over to start a new life. Quickly our everyman comes up with a clever scam to get the money and keep everybody happy even if it means breaking a few laws to do it. Enter Jimmy’s one-armed barman of a brother, Clyde, and currently ‘in-car-cer-rated’ explosive expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) and a low-fi, high-risk heist that matches even Dany Ocean’s best laid plans and you’ve got what might be Soderbergh’s best film since Contagion.
Like any best laid plan, every member plays their part in setting the one great scheme of a story, beginning with Tatum and Driver as the Logan brothers. The film would easily fall apart if it weren’t for two effortlessly charming gents in the roles. Tatum’s Jimmy might be the brains of the outfit, but he’s only a few gears ahead of his brother Clyde, which makes the brotherly back and forth between the two a joy to watch. The former is the positive thinker of the pair, keen to get the cash to keep his life from falling apart, whilst Driver’s Clyde is to bring him back down to earth by saying little but causing all the more impact when he does so.
It might be their names on the title, but it’s all down to Craig that lets the film go out with a Bang, Joe Bang. For the first time in ages, the current 007 is cutting loose without a care in the world running rings around Tatum, Driver and anyone else he’s in cahoots with. The egg-munching convict steals the show the second he steps onto the screen as the star in prison stripes. Not necessarily running rings around his co-stars, but drawing your eye simply because it’s a role Craig has never handled before and he nails it. He’s the sharpest tool in the shed in a draw full of rather dull instruments and lights the fuse to a film that’s already causing sparks.
There are a few weak links littered among the silver screen sleight of hand that don’t necessarily spoil the trick Soderbergh has conjured, but mostly make you wonder why they were even there. The setting for this big steal is a NASCAR stadium that leads to meeting two drivers that hardly add anything to the pot in the form of Seth McFarlane and Sebastian Stan. More of a distraction than a worthy detail, it’s time wasted on them when it could be seeing more of two brothers and a briefly escaped convict. Also add in the likes of Hilary Swank as a deadpan FBI agent being the first to realise something doesn’t smell right, and a new love interest in the form of Katherine Waterson as a nurse to catch Jimmy’s eye and we’ve got the film being filled out when its bare bones effort is what drives it further. Even with these iffy cards being dealt, there’s still a strong enough hand to make Logan Lucky worth a gamble to watch. Humour, heart and the same sharp Soderbergh style that hasn’t been present for some time, this is the most fun you’ll have with crime and a bag of gummy bears all year.