Channing Tatum, Riley Keough and Adam Driver star as not-especially-lucky thieves looking to pull off a big heist at a big Nascar race

HILLBILLY heist movie Logan Lucky (Cert 12A, 119 mins) marks director Steven Soderbergh’s much-publicised hiatus from feature filmmaking. Produced outside the mainstream Hollywood machinery, Logan Lucky treads familiar ground to Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven (and Twelve… and Thirteen…), repositioning the hyperactive action to West Virigina and swapping slick suits for Bob Seeger t-shirts.
The setting does much to breathe some new life into a well-worn concept, with several healthy doses of old-fashioned Americana and light-hearted hicksploitation helping to endear us to the cast of loveable oafs, rather than have us pointing and laughing.
Still, as enjoyable a ride as this slickly edited caper is, one can’t help but feeling that a lot was left on the cutting room floor.
Channing Tatum plays blue-collar construction worker Jimmy Logan, who, along with his one-armed bartender brother, Clyde (Adam Driver), and automobile-enthusiast sister, Mellie (Riley Keogh), has supposedly inherited a family curse – a stroke of bad luck.
When Jimmy loses his job and faces a court-battle for custody of his young daughter, the Logans set out to steal millions in cash from the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina.
Recruiting currently-incarcerated demolition expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), the family devises a plan to break into the NASCAR racetrack’s underground vault. When bad luck and unforeseen circumstances push the big day forward, the gang is forced to pull off the heist during the busiest race day of the year.
If there’s one thing that Soderbergh has allowed to remain a consistent thread in a career that, while rarely vacillating in quality, has worked through an extremely diverse range of genres and subjects, it’s his focus on building believable, human characters.
Logan Lucky is at its best when focusing on its characters, thanks to a fantastic ensemble cast that looks to have had a lot of fun working on it.
For all their flaws, each character has a redeeming quality that has us rooting to see them through to the finish line. The family bond is palpable. Tatum and Driver do a great job maintaining it with two hilarious understated performances.
Riley Keogh’s turn as the family’s youngest sibling brings a subtle sadness to the story, underlining the unfulfilled human potential that’s surely at the heart of many a true southern tale – it’s a shame she’s under-utilised in the narrative.
That’s where Logan Lucky falls short of being a truly classic caper – there’s often a sense that something is missing. While it endears and delivers big laughs in its first act and ties up proceedings very nicely towards the end, it often feels like Soderbergh was a little too ruthless with the scissors.
Aside from the underdevelopment of Keogh’s character and a seriously half-baked romantic side-plot, the entire heist segment of the films is often clumsy, taking several leaps ahead of us and hoping we’ll catch up.
Much is made of this in a couple late-in-the-game twists, but with a little more precision, Logan Lucky’s climax could have packed a hell of a lot more punch.
While Logan Lucky is perhaps worth the price of admission alone just to witness Craig run as far away as he possibly can from any typecasting his Bond performances may have earned him, there’s plenty more to enjoy here.
Soderbergh’s holiday from Hollywood may have been too short-lived for anyone to really notice, but Logan Lucky certainly leaves us hoping another sabbatical isn’t on the cards.
Verdict: 8/10

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