Heist movies, in general, are fun. The genre revitalized The Fast and the Furious franchise and gave Ant-Man something to do in his solo flick. They’ve also kept George Clooney, Brad Pitt and about nine other movie stars employed. The Ocean’s movies are pretty much the quintessential example of heist films. With a gender swapped remake on the way, it’s interesting that Steven Soderbergh has come out of quasi-retirement to return with a new take on the heist flick 16 years after directing Ocean’s Eleven.
While Danny Ocean and his boys took on a Vegas casino, the target in Logan Lucky is Charlotte Motor Speedway and NASCAR. Down-on-his-luck Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) enlists a motley crew, including his one-armed, veteran brother Clyde (Adam Driver) and an incarcerated explosives expert named Joe Bang (played by Daniel Craig trading his James Bond seriousness for a southern accent and bleached crewcut). The trademarks of the heist are all there. See that aforementioned motley crew and the fact that just enough of the plan is withheld from the audience to allow for a third act rug pull. Everything’s just been a little southern fried.
It feels important to note, however, that this isn’t a mean-spirited film. It beats critics and viewers to the punch by referring to the robbery as “the hillbilly heist” and “Ocean’s 7-11,” but the fact that these characters are from West Virginia and North Carolina isn’t used as a punchline (for the most part). There are hillbilly stereotypes in the film (Joe Bang’s got himself a pair of brothers who shoulder most of that burden), but for the most part the characters are fleshed out beyond simple stereotypes. The biggest laughs in the film are unrelated to the central characters or setting. There’s a NASCAR driver’s fitness routine that feels like a classier Talladega Nights riff and a set of demands from a prison riot that puts Orange is the New Black’s Cheetos and Takis to shame.
If there’s a fault to be had with Logan Lucky, it’s that the motivation for the robbery is a little shaky. It doesn’t go much beyond that the characters want money. Tatum’s Jimmy has the clearest motivations, but even they don’t feel particularly compelling. Andy Garcia didn’t steal George Clooney’s wife, and Edward Norton didn’t previously betray Mark Wahlberg. Joe Bang just knows how to blow stuff up, and Clyde’s brother burned the bacon the way he likes. It’s not enough to ruin the fun, but if you, like two characters in the film, require a morality clause with your criminal activity, it might distract from it.
Cake Rating: No cake necessary. But I do have a craving for a Slurpee and a Slim Jim. Where’s the nearest 7-11?