‘Logan Lucky’ is just ‘Oceans Eleven’ for dummies

by Tim English on August 22, 2017

in Print Reviews,Reviews

 [Rating: Swiss Fist]

You ever wonder what Oceans Eleven would have been like if it had been led by a bunch of dumb southern jackass hicks? The answer is surprisingly disappointing and tedious and a not as much fun to watch as it should have been. Director Steven Soderbergh, who continues to threaten retirement, once again teams with Channing Tatum to remake Oceans Eleven at a NASCAR race. But it’s like…it’s not bad, it’s just not that good. It’s just kinda there.

Early on, down on his luck chump Jimmy Logan (Tatum) loses his job. This comes on the heels of learning his daughter Sadie, played by cutie pie Farrah Mackenzie, is moving to a new town with her momma (Katie Holmes). Hellbent to strike up some quick cash so he can stay with his baby girl, he dusts off an old scheme to rip-off a NASCAR race during one of its biggest weekends. He knows the ins and outs and when to strike when the money cache is full. But he’s an idiot. So he enlists his idiot, one-armed brother, Clyde (Adam Driver), and their sister Mellie (Riley Keough) to help him pull of the heist of a lifetime.

The movie pretty much sticks to the Oceans formula, but everything moves. So. Slow. The script is credited to first-time Rebecca Blunt, who may or may not be a real person. Maybe it’s Soderbergh himself, or his wife, former E News Daily host Jules Asner, or just as likely, pieced together through some internet mad libs program? Who knows? Honestly, it would make perfect sense if the writer for this movie didn’t actually exist. The script itself is lifeless. Things kinda happen, not really giving much reason or making sense other than to set up the next ridiculous twist.

The characters are more interesting than they’re allowed to be, but they never say anything interesting during long, drawn out conversations. The story plods along. For a while, it’s kinda fun in that ‘I’ve-seen-this-before-and-I-remember-liking-it-oh-yeah-that-was-Oceans-Eleven‘ kinda way. But even by the end once you see…I guess it’s the “plot twist” of the heist? There’s trickery at play, but seriously, it’s just like Oceans Eleven, there’s just fewer characters involved. And where the Oceans flicks kinda popped, this kinda goes, meh.

It’s unfortunate, because the actors seem perfectly game. Tatum and Driver have good chemistry, which somehow emerges through the lackadaisical dialogue. It’s over the top and campy and plays on all the perceived stereotypes of the souther folk. At times, it feels like there is an energy just waiting to burst out, but it never manifests. It’s like the characters are aware they should be in a better movie, just don’t know how to course correct.

Daniel Craig is fun to watch — how many times has that ever been said? — playing against type as Joe Bang, the demolitions expert the Logan boys wrangle into the mix. Again, Craig is better than the material given and his best lines are in the trailers. Which, come to think of it, is probably the best way to watch this movie, that way you’re like, “Oh, this seems kinda good, but then you never get around to it so all you think is ‘yeah, I saw the trailer, that looked fun.’” And Dwight Yoakam has a few good moments as the warden of a prison.

And then Seth MacFarlane shows up as an Australian race car driver who is more concerned about selling out for a soda company than driving his race, and it’s just like fuck it, I give up, you’re not even trying. Blink and you’ll miss Sebastian Stan as another driver. Well, you won’t miss him now that I pointed him out. Other famous faces show up, some to investigate and it’s like, ‘oh, no not her.’ I won’t spoil the surprise, but it all feels so random. Others to work at blood donation trucks and serve as potential love interests, I guess.

But, it’s really not as much fun, nor as smart as it should be or thinks it is. There’s promise, at times. Every now and then, “Blunt”, or whomever wrote this flick, teases a fun plot point or the conversation will steer in a direction where you think the tide is turning, but dammit if it never quite comes. It’s frustrating to watch at times. Then again, the fault may fall to Mr. Soderbergh himself. Maybe he didn’t let Tatum and Driver see the script or encouraged them to not learn their lines. I’m really not sure.

Bottom line, Logan Lucky is kinda interesting, but poorly executed. It’s long, it’s slow, it never feels like its going anywhere and when it does it’s anti-climactic. It’s tedious and — while this review may not reflect I am a fan of Soderbergh (I am) — just really, really disappointing. The whole time I felt like I wanted to enjoy it a lot more than I was. I knew there was a good movie somewhere. I won’t say it’s bad. It’s just a whole bag of “meh.” So, bam, right down the middle.

Writer. Ad Man. Jedi. Sometimes people ask for my opinion on movies. Sometimes they agree. Member of the Kansas City Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Creator and voice of the Reel Hooligans podcast. Find us on iTunes. Board member for the Independent Filmmakers Coalition of Kansas City and founder of the Terror on the Plains Horror Festival.

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