Friday, July 20, 2018
Directed, shot, and edited by Steven Soderbergh and written by Rebecca Blunt, Logan Lucky is the story of a trio of siblings who try to end their family’s streak of bad luck and underachievement by robbing the Charlotte Motor Speedway and hope they don’t get caught by the FBI. The film marks a return from Soderbergh following a four-year break from films as he returns to a genre that has brought him success and mixing it with humor. Starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Sebastian Stan, Katherine Waterston, Seth McFarlane, Jack Quaid, Brian Gleeson, Dwight Yoakam, and Daniel Craig. Logan Lucky is an exhilarating and whimsical film from Steven Soderbergh.
The film follows two brothers whose lives haven’t gone well as they conspire with their younger sister about stealing money at the Charlotte Motor Speedway with the help of an incarcerated safecracker they know. It’s a film with a simple premise with some complexities and intrigue yet it is about a family trying to change their fortunes and hope to give themselves a better life. Yet, they know they can’t do it by themselves as it’s not just this safecracker they need but also his brothers who aren’t very smart but are dependable. Rebecca Blunt’s screenplay does follow a simple three-act structure as the first act is about the Logan family with the eldest in Jimmy (Channing Tatum) was once a promising football star until his right knee gave out as he works in construction and wanting to be a good dad to his daughter Sadie (Farah Mackenzie) whom he has shared custody with his ex-wife Bobbie Jo Chapman (Katie Holmes).
Yet, he would be laid off due to insurance liabilities relating to his knee as it add to his growing misfortunes that would include his younger brother Clyde (Adam Driver) who lost part of his left arm in the Iraq War and is wearing a prosthetic while working as a bartender. The first act doesn’t just play into the Logans’ misfortune and Jimmy’s motivation to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway but also wanting to change it as he knows what to do, where to steal, and when as they recruit their younger sister Mellie (Riley Keough), the incarcerated safecracker Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), and Bang’s younger brothers Sam (Brian Gleeson) and Fish (Jack Quaid). The second act isn’t just about the heist but also how Joe and Clyde, who would put himself in prison to help Joe, break out and later get back in to serve their sentences but there are also complications as it relates the day of the heist forcing Jimmy to change plans. The third act is about its aftermath where the no-nonsense FBI agent Sarah Grayson (Hilary Swank) come in and figure what is going on as she would prove to be a match for all involved.
Steven Soderbergh’s direction is definitely stylish in some respects in terms of some of the compositions and set pieces he creates yet much of it is still straightforward as it play into the simple world of a trio of unfortunate siblings. Shot on various locations in North Carolina as well as Charlotte including the Charlotte Motor Speedway and parts of the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Soderbergh does use the locations to play into this world of the American South as it is set mainly in the border between West Virginia and North Carolina where Jimmy did some of his construction work in the latter though he lives in the former. Soderbergh would emphasize on a simple approach to the compositions such as the opening scene of Jimmy fixing his truck while talking to Sadie about a John Denver song. It’s among these moments where Soderbergh can bring so much by doing so little which would also include a key scene of Sadie doing her pageant performance as the simplicity of the shots are captivating in establishing what is happening but also would serve as a key motivation for the few involved in that scene.
Also serving as cinematographer and editor in respective pseudonyms as Peter Andrews and Mary Ann Bernard, Soderbergh’s approach to the visuals as there are some stylistic approach to lighting for some of the interiors and scenes at night whether it’s the usage of dark-yellowish colors or something natural for some scenes set in the daytime. Soderbergh’s editing does have style such as this usage of dissolves in a montage for some characters during the third act but also in some stylish cuts as it play into the heist and its aftermath. The heist sequence has elements of comedy but also intrigue into the attention to detail of what is going on and how they get the money but there’s also some twists and turns along the way such as what is happening at the prison Joe and Clyde are serving at. Soderbergh would also infuse bits of comedy as it relates to a snobbish British businessman in Max Chaliban (Seth MacFarlane) who would rile up the Logan brothers but also put himself into some serious shit. All of which play into two sets of siblings trying to pull off a heist without having the authorities wonder who it is. Overall, Soderbergh crafts as mesmerizing and fun film about a trio of siblings trying to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway to end their family curse.
Production designer Howard Cummings, with set decorators Barbara Munch plus art directors Eric R. Johnson and Rob Simons, does brilliant work with the look of the homes that some of the characters live in as well as the interior of the tube system inside the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Costume designer Ellen Mirojnick does fantastic work with the costumes from the dresses that Sadie wears for her pageant as well as some of the stylish clothing that Mellie wears. Visual effects supervisors Christina Mitrotti and Lesley Robson-Foster do terrific work with the visual effects as it relates to Clyde without his prosthetic as well as a few set dressing scenes. Sound designer Larry Blake does excellent work with the sound as it play into the way the tube system sounds from the inside as well as the scenes at the race track. The film’s music by David Holmes is amazing for its electronic-jazz score that has a lot of energy in the way it play into the suspense and humor with some blues and rock in the mix while music supervisor Season Kent provides a fun soundtrack of blues, rock, and country from artists and acts like Bo Diddley, John Denver, the Groundhogs, Lord John Sutch, John Fahey, LeAnn Rimes, Dr. John, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The casting by Carmen Cuba is great as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from real NASCAR racers Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch as state troopers, Jon Eyez as an inmate friend of Joe in Naaman, Kyle Larson as a limo driver, LeAnn Rimes as herself singing America the Beautiful, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano as security guards, the trio of Jeff Gordon, Darrell Waltrip, and Mike Joy as themselves commentating the race, Charles Halford as a friend of the Logans in Earl, Macon Blair as Grayson’s partner, Jim O’Heir as Jimmy’s boss early in the film who reluctantly lays him off, David Denman as Bobbie Jo’s husband Moody Chapman, Boden and Sutton Johnston in their respective roles as Moody’s sons Dylan and Levi, Ann Mahoney as a woman working security named Gleema, and Sebastian Stan in a terrific small role as NASCAR racer Dayton White who tries to live a healthy lifestyle despite working for Chaliban.
Katherine Waterston is fantastic in a small role as a former classmate of Jimmy in Sylvia who runs a mobile clinic where she gives Jimmy a tetanus shot. Dwight Yoakam is superb as Warden Burns as a prison warden who tries to uphold some order during a prison riot that lead to Joe and Clyde’s brief escape. Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson are hilarious in their respective roles as Joe’s dim-witted brothers Fish and Sam as two guys who aren’t smart but are still guys who can get the job done. Katie Holmes is wonderful as Bobbie Jo Chapman as Jimmy’s ex-wife who is still bitter about Jimmy’s shortcomings as she is also concerned about her daughter’s performance at the pageant. Farrah Mackenzie is brilliant as Sadie as Jimmy and Bobbie Jo’s daughter who is entering a beauty pageant as she turns to her Aunt Mellie for help while wondering what song to sing at the pageant. Hilary Swank is excellent as Sarah Grayson as a no-nonsense FBI agent who arrives in the film’s third act as she knows something is up but is also aware that whoever stole the money are a lot smarter than anyone realizes.
Seth MacFarlane is a joy to watch as Max Chaliban as a pretentious businessman from Britain with awful hair and a mustache who insults the Logan brothers as well as try to get his racer to drink his awful energy drink as he is just fun to watch. Riley Keough is amazing as Mellie Logan as a hairdresser who doesn’t believe in the family curse but is aware that the family hasn’t done great as she helps her brothers with the robbery in her own way while being there for her niece Sadie for the upcoming pageant. Daniel Craig is incredible as Joe Bang as a safecracker who is doing time in prison that knows how to open safes while Craig is given the chance to be funny and charming as he is a joy to watch. Adam Driver is marvelous as Clyde Logan as a former Iraq War veteran with a prosthetic left arm who also works as a bartender where he is reluctant to be part of the bank robbery as he had gotten arrested before as a kid yet is hoping to reverse the family curse. Finally, there’s Channing Tatum in a remarkable performance as Jimmy Logan as a former football star turned construction worker who decides to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway in the hope to change his family fortunes but also give his daughter a chance for a future as it is a low-key but charismatic performance from Tatum.
Logan Lucky is a phenomenal film from Steven Soderbergh. Featuring a great cast, gorgeous visuals, a killer music soundtrack, and a witty take on the caper/heist film. The film is definitely one of Soderbergh’s most entertaining films but also one that is full of engaging characters and moment that are full of heart and joy. In the end, Logan Lucky is a spectacular film from Steven Soderbergh.
Steven Soderbergh Films: sex, lies, & videotape - Kafka - King of the Hill - The Underneath - Gray’s Anatomy - Schizopolis - Out of Sight - The Limey - Erin Brockovich - Traffic - Ocean's Eleven - Full Frontal - Solaris (2002 film) - Eros-Equilibrium - Ocean’s Twelve - Bubble - The Good German - Ocean’s Thirteen - Che - The Girlfriend Experience - The Informant! - And Everything is Going Fine - Contagion - Haywire - Magic Mike - Side Effects - Behind the Candelabra - (Unsane) – (High Flying Bird)
The Auteurs #39: Steven Soderbergh: Part 1 - Part 2
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