Bleecker Street Media
1 hour, 59 minutes
Adam Driver is an actor I can’t really seem to warm up to, even though I think I’ve liked everything I’ve ever seen him in. Maybe it’s his looks, or his demeanor, but he just doesn’t seem like a movie star. He seems too plain and dull-looking to be interesting and too weird to be a straight man.
And yet, I always find him interesting which makes me think it won’t be long before Hollywood finds a way to put him into straight man roles. He is my favorite part of this week’s light-hearted heist flick, “Logan Lucky,” which is high praise considering the film also includes stellar performances from Daniel Craig and Channing Tatum.
The Logan brothers are cursed. At least that’s what Driver’s one-armed Clyde Logan seems to think. Co-owner of a dive bar with his brother Jimmy, Clyde is quick to connect all the misfortune that has befallen the family. Jimmy, though less interested in the curse theory, is still quick to admit that he’s got it pretty bad. Divorced and recently fired, Jimmy is desperate to figure out a way to get enough money to move near to where his ex-wife and daughter are relocating.
The solution? Rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway on one of the biggest revenue days of the year. Obviously. Though they’ve had brushes with the law, Jimmy is an ex-football player while Clyde is a decorated veteran, neither of whom could be considered career criminals.
For some expertise, the two call on Craig’s Joe Bang, a safecracker and explosive expert who is, unfortunately, incarcerated. Getting Joe out of jail in time for the job is just one problem the brothers much surmount is this engaging, interesting, fun and, ultimately, breezy heist flick from director Steven Soderbergh.
I really enjoyed this movie. When I left the theater, I new I’d had a good time, but I was fixated on the fact that it wasn’t as funny as I’d expected. And it’s not. The trailers made this look like a “Raising Arizona” style comedy complete with goofy accents and bumbling bumpkins.
That’s not this movie at all, though I shouldn’t say it’s not funny. It is, but subtler and less showy. Much of the comedy is physical, though not slapstick. Driver’s stiff, almost mechanical way of moving, Craig’s jittery, yet graceful carriage, Tatum’s bulk belying a sharp tendency toward accuracy. The physicality of the actors works perfectly with an overarching aesthetic that Soderbergh manages to infuse throughout: the unexpected.
Riley Keough, as the beautiful hairdressing Logan sister Mellie, turns out to be a car fanatic and a getaway driver topped only by the other great heist film of the summer, “Baby Driver.” Clyde may only have one arm, but there’s no question that he is the bartender, rather than fill that role with someone more “able.”
Soderbergh is a great director who has a real penchant for flying under the radar. He seems to be able to sneak a movie into theaters with virtually no warning. That doesn’t speak well for his marketers, but his films are almost always entertaining. “Logan” isn’t the director’s first foray into the heist game. “The Limey,” “Out of Sight” and the “Ocean’s” films are all fun entries into the genre from this eclectic auteur.
As well as sharp directing and writing, “Logan” features a great performance from Channing Tatum, an actor that I keep wanting to pigeonhole as a big lug action star, despite his many roles that say different. Tatum is superb, and more than a little heart-felt in this performance, but it’s hardly his only notable performance. This is the guy who made “Magic Mike” worth watching, who showed his comedic chops in the “Jumpstreet” movies, and who stole the show in the Coen Brother’s latest, “Hail Caesar.” If Channing Tatum continues to choose to work with interesting directors, and choose scripts based on how smart they are, it is not a stretch to think we’ll be seeing “Oscar Winning Actor” in place before his name before too long.
“Logan Lucky” is one of the better movies I’ve seen in months, and not simply because I like heist movies. It’s tightly written, it feels honest and affectionate toward its characters, even when gently mocking them, and best of all, it’s just light, fun film. It’s not a movie that feels like it’s trying to bludgeon you with import or forboding or uproarious humor. It’s simply entertaining without having to try too hard. If only most movies could say the same.
“Logan Lucky” is rated PG-13 for language and brief violence.
Chris Jenness is an art teacher, freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.