You had me at John Denver…
Sliding in as smooth as a pumped, pimped and tricked out American muscle drifting car, we have the latest frivolous and joyous delight that is Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Logan Lucky’ (2017). Gathering his tool kit of multiple heist experiences from the Oceans series, Soderbergh is taking his next caper out on the road, or rather a pit stop in the intoxicating brain cell killing race fuel fumed NASCAR racing, which from a European perspective looks like a giant Scalextric oval doing 100 ‘exciting’ laps.
Obviously like any great car journey (even if it is round in circles), one of the most important/essential things is tunes, and once again the Soderbergh go to God of Mixtapes (soundtracks) that is David Holmes is at the turntables curating the slick, boisterous, really funny and heartwarming soundtrack that perfectly matches and drives the movie. Having John Denver as the opening track during a wonderful cheeky interplay between Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum is always great) and his daughter Sadie (Farrah MacKenzie) perfectly signposts the smart arsed joy that is ahead. It also told me I was going to love this movie.
The Logan family are down on their luck. To be honest, they’ve never been up on luck either, or up on anything remotely in the same species or even genus. Despite their seemingly infinite life time and ancestral misfortune enhanced DNA, they still have the plucky American drive to pick up their boots (or someone elses) and motor on. In that grand old tradition, any success won’t be handed to them despite their graft, so they’re just going to have to take it.
Like the complete opposite to the Planets aligning, circumstances force divorced Jimmy to think up of alternative revenue streams to keep things afloat and still be able to be the dad he truly wants to be for is only daughter. Necessity may be the mother of invention, and inventions clearly starts with a pen, so a ten step master plan is drawn up on a fridge notice for the perfect heist. What could possibly go wrong, other than everything.
To pull it all off a team of ‘experts’ have to be gathered, failing that, whoever is about at the time will do. Jimmy’s one armed Veteran brother Clyde was always going to be in, that’s what brothers are for, and starting bar fights of course. But they need some explosive expertise too, and the only one they know of is Joe Bang (Daniel Craig proving that he has huge potential in killing people with laughs rather than bullets after the Bond escapades), who as Logan luck would have it is currently in prison.
That true American grit and brain mumble keeps on chugging ahead regardless of the speed bumps, traps, punctures, empty fuel tanks and whatever Herculean glitches are thrown their way. You’d already love them for their tenacity, but given that they are all beautifully worked out and wonderfully rounded characters, with an oil slick as fuck script that everyone is clearly relishing saying these somewhat beautifully absurdest sentences, proving that you don’t have to be well educated to use big words, just educated to know what they mean.
Everyone is on brilliant form lovingly representing a whole strata of folk who have found themselves in situations that they hadn’t really planned for, and deal with it as best they can. The only real misfire is Seth MacFarlane’s obnoxious billionaire Race Team owner Max Chiblain. Whereas despite a lot of the characters being somewhat outlandish, they are played with some fantastic subtleties, lines and unique quirks that are a joy to behold. MacFarlane seems to have mined Harry Enfield’s Scouser sketch, and rightly ballsed it up.
There is much that is familiar about what is going on, but it’s just so delightfully and slickly put together that you don’t really want to look under the hood any ways, it’s just great fun. Unfortunately not checking out the transmission or at least getting a MOT, and of course the luck situation means it never reaches pole position and slightly stumbles across the finish line. But sometimes it’s not about the win, and it’s all about the road trip. Soderbergh has come up with a fantastic bunch of characters that I would love to see out and about again, someone tell David Holmes to start crate digging NOW!
8/10 ‘Logan Lucky’ is out now.
For more film reviews click here >