by George Wolf
You’re not long into director Steven Soderbergh’s latest before you expect to see Brad Pitt standing around eating something.
Because Logan Lucky is essentially Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11 with hillbillies, which had to intrigue Soderbergh when he first read the script from Rebecca Blunt. If that is her real name.
No, seriously, Blunt is rumored to be a pseudonym for the actual writer, who should just ‘fess up and take credit for this hoot of a heist homage.
Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) gets laid off from his job fixing sinkholes underneath Charlotte Motor Speedway, so he puts together a 10-point plan for his next career move. Two of those points are labeled “shit happens.”
The rest is simple.
Jimmy, his one-armed brother Clyde (Adam Driver) and their sister Mellie (Riley Keough), will bust redneck robber Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) out of jail to help them rob the speedway during the biggest NASCAR race of the year, and then have Joe back in the slam before anyone is the wiser.
Soderbergh structures everything to parallel his Ocean‘s films so closely that when he finally addresses that elephant outright, the only surprise is how often the rubes draw a better hand than the Vegas pretty boys.
Logan serves up indelible characters, fun suspense, finely tuned plotting and solid humor, including a hilarious bit with a prison warden (Dwight Yoakam) explaining to some rioting inmates why the next Games of Thrones novel isn’t available yet.
As Bang, Craig is a flat out riot, doing fine justice to the best character name since Chest Rockwell, and standing out in an ensemble (also including Katie Holmes, Seth MacFarlane, Katherine Waterston, Hilary Swank and Sebastian Stan) that shines from top to toe.
Assembled as precisely as a letter-perfect grift, Logan Lucky has smarts, charm and some downright weirdness. It’s a late August blast with more than enough fun to beat our summertime blues.