Max Redmond Smith on Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Logan Lucky’ (2017)
It would be fair to preface this review by saying that what follows is perhaps more-so a review at large of the output of comedy films in recent years, and its alarming tip into lazy and unimaginative writing. Steven Soderbergh‘s Logan Lucky follows brothers, Jimmy (Channing Tatum) and Clyde Logan (Adam Driver), as they attempt to heist a NASCAR race with the help of incarcerated criminal Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), and their younger sister, Mellie Logan (Riley Keough). The plan inevitably encounters some hiccups along the way, and the “Hillbilly Heist” becomes hindered at several points by the inexperience and, at times, stupidity of those involved.
Logan Lucky is by no means an entirely trite story, the casting is believable—at least, it is for all bar Craig, who through no fault of his own, will struggle to shake Bond entirely from his star persona—the plot is not ludicrous, and the heist comes together well at the end. If at any point the hackneyed nature of the caper becomes apparent, at least Jimmy has provided a checklist of what invariably happens during a heist film, the most prominent bullet point being, “shit happens.” At least Logan Lucky is somewhat aware of its excursion into generic tropes. However, Soderbergh has failed in pushing Logan Lucky beyond convention to give it any possibility of being memorable. It’s not so much that “shit happens” but rather that what happens is shit.
Despite the heist itself being thoughtfully conceived, it is executed poorly, and is particularly un-entertaining. There is a lacking air of suspense, and antagonist Sarah Grayson (Hilary Swank) poses no real dramatic threat; at no point do you feel that there were any serious consequences awaiting the Logan brothers, even when apparently dogged by a “curse”.
One could conjecture that the lack of visual spectacle and spectacular circumstance were intended to compliment the deadpan and dumb type of humour, but this only reflects the comedy and fails to bolster it. Capable talent are sadly caged away within weakly written characters and are as forgettable as the limp throwaway jokes sewn throughout the experience. Characters of comic book proportions of stereotype and exaggeration are met with slow-witted and underwhelming writing, making for wasted potential.
For the most part, the comedy through Logan Lucky feels lazy, milking jokes dry and resembling leftovers SNL sketches. While comedy is regarded as a subjective matter, and so to criticise the integrity of the jokes may appear harsh, there appears to be a trend towards a lazy style of humour, poorly employed in a film that could have made use of visual humour or dramatic irony.
This is Soderbergh’s first film since coming out of retirement. While the obvious critical pun would state, “It looks like he should have stayed that way”, this is too harsh for a film that is, simply and quite sadly, just an altogether forgettable one.
Logan Lucky is showing in cinemas now.