“Logan” flick pushes its luck



“Logan Lucky,” starring Channing Tatum (left) and Adam Driver (right), has received positive reviews from critics. It currently holds a 92 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

CLINTON OLSASKY, Executive Editor | [email protected]

After a four-year hiatus from feature films, Steven Soderbergh (“Sex, Lies and Videotape,” “Traffic”) returns to the director’s chair with “Logan Lucky,” a high-energy action comedy set against the backdrop of the Charlotte Motor Speedway and its renowned Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race.

The film follows Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) and his brother Clyde (Adam Driver), as they attempt to rob a vault at the Speedway with the help of convicted safecracker Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) during the high-profile racing event.

Now, for the sake of full disclosure, I think it is only fair that I divulge my undying hatred for all things NASCAR — a “sport” that, to me, lacks any real skill, purpose or intelligence.

With that being said, even though the film’s subject matter didn’t necessarily appeal to me, I was still looking forward to seeing “Logan Lucky” for, if nothing else, Soderbergh’s direction and the talented cast that featured Tatum, Driver and Craig.

And, as a matter of fact, the capable direction and committed performances were largely enough to keep me engaged throughout. The issues with plot and character development, however, ultimately prevented “Logan Lucky” from rising above its lackluster subject matter.

Directing: 4/5

While it is true that “Logan Lucky” lacked narrative urgency due to a profound lack of character motivation, Soderbergh’s skilled and oftentimes stylish direction proved to be the film’s saving grace.

To be sure, the events surrounding the film’s central heist unfold with such a visual flourish that any narrative shortcomings almost become a second thought.

Soderbergh makes use of nearly every trick in the directorial handbook: tracking shots, soft focus, POV shots and vibrantly edited montage sequences, among a host of other techniques.

Again, while the story at hand isn’t likely to appeal to most viewers, the lively visuals may just be enough to warrant at least a lukewarm recommendation for “Logan Lucky.”

Writing: 2/5

As stated before, the central heist narrative in “Logan Lucky” simply isn’t all that interesting, which can largely be attributed to the film’s thinly written characters.

Indeed, many of the individuals who populate the Appalachian blue collar world of “Logan Lucky” more often resemble caricatures than actual people.

Whether it be Driver’s slow-witted, one-armed bartender Clyde Logan, Craig’s idiosyncratic explosives expert Joe Bang or Seth MacFarlane’s painfully unfunny and unconvincing British businessman Max Chilblain, nearly all of the film’s characters seem to exist purely for laughs, rather than emotional connection.

The only character that carries any significant emotional weight in the film is Tatum’s Jimmy Logan, whose recent firing from his job propels him to embark on a dangerous heist to support himself and his daughter.

And yes, I know it’s essential to take into account a film’s specific genre — in this case, an action comedy — when critiquing any narrative flaws or perceived lack of emotional impact.

In other words, an action comedy like “Logan Lucky” simply isn’t intended to elicit tears or to have a profound impact on its viewers the same way that, say, a coming of age story like last year’s “Moonlight” (directed by Barry Jenkins) does.

Still, the fact that “Logan Lucky” offers so little in the way of sufficient character development or emotional weight to supplement its central heist narrative is certainly a detriment to the film’s overall ability to entertain. 

Acting: 3/5

Although much of the film’s cast consists of truly gifted actors (outside of the questionable casting of the woefully untalented MacFarlane), the uninspiring subject matter and overwhelming lack of character development often inhibits any opportunities for the actors to shine.

In fact, the film’s cast is more often than not subjected to portraying caricatures of backwoods hicks and hillbillies, which ultimately serves as an insult to these actors’ abilities and to the audience’s intelligence.

Still, I must admit that the cast does fully commit to their respective characters’ various quirks and oddities — most notably, Driver in what is the most consistently funny performance in the film.

In addition, it should be noted that Tatum does turn in a reasonably respectable performance as the estranged husband and father whose desperate attempts for redemption serve as the film’s narrative backbone.

Overall: 3/5

“Logan Lucky” doesn’t offer much in the way of story or character, and that lack of emotional connection may be enough to keep most viewers at bay.

However, thanks to Soderbergh’s direction and the cast’s committed performances, there is still plenty to like about “Logan Lucky.” By the time the end credits roll, though, just don’t be surprised if you have the uneasy feeling that you just wasted your time. In other words, don’t be surprised if you feel like a NASCAR fan.