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“Logan Lucky” is a welcome return to cinemas for Steven Soderbergh

Another embargo came down earlier this week, ironically for an additional film that I saw last week, during the previously mentioned run of top notch screenings (side note, Detroit is out today in limited release, just as an FYI). This one happened to be Logan Lucky, the cinematic return of director Steven Soderbergh. I’d actually meant to write about this one a few days ago, but fall film festival announcements got in the way (and actually, it turned out to be a good thing, as now I can talk a bit about the rumors surrounding scribe/potential figment of the imagination Rebecca Blunt). This flick is a ton of fun, offering a new heist offering from Soderbergh. Teaming up again with Tatum, as well as a great ensemble, it’s a really quite enjoyable lark.

Is the movie basically a hillbilly take on Ocean’s 11? Yes. Still, it’s a ton of fun. We meet Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) right as he’s being fired from a construction site for his limp, stemming from an old injury that ruined his promising football career. Faced with having to potentially hire an expensive lawyer to keep his daughter from moving too far away with his ex-wife Bobbie Jo Logan Chapman (Katie Holmes) and her new husband, Jimmy makes a seemingly spur of the moment decision. He decides to recruit his ex military and now one handed brother Clyde Logan (Adam Driver) for a robbery. Not just any robbery, either. He wants to rob Charlotte Motor Speedway, the place he worked construction on. Jimmy knows where the money gets moved during NASCAR events and wants some. They need someone who knows explosives though, and that’s where currently incarcerated Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) comes in. Teamed up with Joe and their sister Mellie Logan (Riley Keogh), the brothers set out to prove that the Logan name is not synonymous with bad luck. A humorous heist ensues, along with at least one or two twists. Soderbergh directs a script supposedly written by Blunt, though it’s apparently possible that she doesn’t exist. He also pulls triple duty as the cinematographer and film editor, though not using his normal pseudonyms. Rounding out the ensemble are the likes of Macon Blair, Brian Gleeson, Seth MacFarlane, Sebastian Stan, Hilary Swank, Katherine Waterston, Dwight Yoakam, and more. The score comes to us from David Holmes.

It’s great to have Soderbergh back. Interestingly, some of his best work has been with Tatum, a muse of sorts for him, it seems. Whether he actually wrote this in addition to directing (rumors have the aforementioned Blunt not existing and potentially being Soderbergh himself, or his wife Jules Asner), it’s a great combination of the Ocean’s 11 tone as well as Magic Mike. Late career Soderbergh is simply having a good time, and it rubs off on the audience. Best in show here, cast wise, is Craig, who steals his scenes, but it’s a strong ensemble overall. Craig just has the best material and runs with it, clearly embracing a non 007 role, with comedy as an added bonus.

Logan Lucky seems like a long shot, awards wise, but it is the kind of thing that the Golden Globes could take a shine to. Especially in terms of Best Picture – Comedy/Musical and Best Supporting Actor for Daniel Craig, but hey, maybe the Globes will fuel an Oscar run? If so, campaigns in Best Picture, Best Director (for Soderbergh), Best Actor (for Tatum), Best Supporting Actor (for Craig and Driver), Best Supporting Actress (for Keough), and Best Original Screenplay (for Blunt or whomever actually wrote it) could happen. The odds don’t favor any of that happening, outside of maybe, just maybe, Craig, but hey…anything is possible, right?

Next month, Logan Lucky opens and should find a nice little audience. Around the time it hits theaters, I’ll dive in with another look, probably focused on Soderbergh. Until then, just know that it’s a lot of fun. Consider this a nice little tease. If you’ve missed the filmmaker during his self imposed temporary retirement, rejoice, as he’s back. The Soderbergh and Tatum team is a fruitful one, so if they opt to continue working together, I’m all for it. Sit tight for more on the film before long. It’s likely going to end up as one of August’s best releases, so it’s something to look forward to…

Stay tuned for more on Logan Lucky between now and its August 18th release date!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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