Movie Review : Logan Lucky (2017)
It's been a long time since Steven Soderbergh made a good movie. I'm one of the few who actually enjoyed 2007's Ocean Thirteen, so give or take a decade? To his credit, he took a creative pause from 2013 to 2017 where he directed television shows, notably the first two season of The Knick, and experimented with editing. Well, maybe Soderbergh should've stuck with "retirement". His glorious return to filmmaking Logan Lucky not only proves that creative fatigue is still there and still very much a problem, but it's also ugly, spiteful and thoroughly unfunny. And that's...ugh, quite new.
Logan Lucky is the story of Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum), a former high school all-star quarterback turned coal miner, looking for the necessary money for a custody battle against his ex-wife Bobbie Joe (Katie Holmes). Because of a vague juvenile delinquency background that is never fully explained, he decides to rob the local Speedway and recruits his amputee brother Clyde (the talented Adam Driver), his sister Mellie (Riley Keough), a safecracker that's not really needed that makes for good comedic relief (Daniel Craig) and his even less needed brothers. That's about it. I don't know what else I can say, it's a cookie-cutter heist movie that tries to compensate its lack of originality with its "personality".
It's easy to see what Steven Soderbergh was going for in Logan Lucky. He said it himself in interview that he wanted to invert the Ocean movies. That it would feature average people without money, technology or anything nice, really. It sounds great on paper, right? It would work better if the premise wasn't the most cliché heist premise you've ever fucking heard in your life. I mean, how can a high-school quarterback/petty thief turned coal miner can even think about pulling off that sort crazy, convoluted Ocean-like heist? This is not how dispossessed people think. Urgency doesn't make you smart. It makes you pick up guns and cut corners.
So yeah, I've had issues suspending my disbelief. But it's not the main problem I had with Logan Lucky. That movie is so fucking spiteful of American culture in general, but especially of Southern people. It deliberately pauses for minutes at a time to laugh at: cell phone obsession, religion, celebrity culture, racial tension *, even Silicon valley gets it. I normally wouldn't mind if it was biting or in any way funny, but this screenplay is the equivalent of a Nelson Muntz's point and laugh. It has no point or wit, it's just trying to ridicule its own characters. If your characters are lifeless clichés and you can't even like them, I have a problem with your movie.
I have zero patience for movies like Logan Lucky, who think they're more clever than they really are. Cleverness is close to zero, here and Steven Soderbergh is surfing his reputation to make you think this is any good. Sure, it looks good. It has a fun, cartoon-y aesthetic that unfortunately cannot overcome how laziness and the stupidity of its own screenplay. Once again, I don't mind a stupid movie but I do mind a movie that thinks I'm stupid and Logan Lucky is plenty guilty of that. We'll always have Out of Sight and The Limey, Soderbergh, but you can stop making movies if it bores you. There are many, many other directors worth my time.
* The prison riot scene has to be one of the worst choreographed scenes I've ever seen in a movie that takes itself seriously.