Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Rebecca Blunt
Produced by Channing Tatum, Gregory Jacobs, Mark Johnson & Reid Carolin
Starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keough, Seth MacFarlane, Katherine Waterston, Sebastian Stan, Jack Quaid, Brian Gleeson, Dwight Yoakam
Katie Holmes & Hilary Swank
Daniel Craig as Joe Bang
Photographed by Peter Andrews
Edited by Mary Ann Bernard
Music by David Holmes
In 2013, the man behind the Che Guevara biopic(s), Erin Brocovich, Traffic and the incredible Ocean’s Trilogy retired from moviemaking after expressing his disappointment with the Hollywood studio system.
Traditionally, once the film is completed, studio marketing teams take control of cutting trailers and executing the advertising and promotional strategy of the film. They control things from poster designs to dialogue promos to media events, thus leaving a director isolated from his/her product and often creating a wrong perception about the genre of the movie (a common mistake Hindi film marketing teams make, cases in point Azhar and Daddy).
So what does the most multi-talented filmmaker of his generation do? He cuts the studios out completely by raising the film’s budget from the sale of overseas distribution rights and paying for P&A through the sale of post-theatrical rights. His actors – including leading stars like Daniel Craig and Channing Tatum – took pay cuts to ensure the film remained within a recoverable budget zone. Indie distributor Bleecker Street partnered up with Soderbergh for marketing and received a $1 million fee upfront for their services. They will collect more based on the film’s box office run and DVD and streaming sales. There’s no doubt that what Soderbergh has tried to pull off is a risk and it remains to be seen whether it’ll pay or not. Either way, he deserves a big hand for daring to pull away from studios and going it alone.
Logan Lucky is a messy film. You know, like a chocolate ice cream dessert on a holiday. It has a ton of characters for a film of its length and scale.
The story is about the Logan siblings and a robbery they plan and execute at the Charlotte Motor Speedway after one of them loses a job. The younger brother is a one-handed Iraq veteran who is a bartender and the sister is a hairdresser. Their accomplice is an explosives expert, aptly named Joe Bang. We also have a couple of racers, Jimmy Logan’s daughter and ex-wife, Bang’s dimwitted but enterprising brothers and an FBI agent, all of whom make for the one of the weirdest ensembles I’ve seen.
The cinematography, handled by Peter Andrews (Steven Soderbergh), is nothing to write home about, though the NASCAR bits are shot well and the simplistic style benefits the story. Edited by Mary Ann Bernard (also Soderbergh), the film is sharpened out though a little slow. David Holmes’ music is what I like to call ‘folkish American stuff’ and is passable.
The supporting cast don’t really do much of note and I even wondered what the point of casting Sebastian Stan was, since almost anybody could’ve played his role. That said, Seth MacFarlane was pretty funny as a pretentious Brit and Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson, playing the other Bang brothers, were quite good too. Farrah MacKenzie, playing Jimmy’s daughter Sadie, was incredibly sweet and her scenes with Tatum were pretty nice.
Katie Holmes and Hilary Swank were wasted in teeny parts but they did well despite their lack of screentime. Riley Keough was great as Mellie Logan, the hairdressing car expert. She held her own against some seasoned performers and left a beautiful mark. Adam Driver, playing the one-handed Clyde, was pretty good and brought an interesting innocence and honesty to the part. Channing Tatum was also quite good as Jimmy and played it low-key, much to his credit. The outlandishness was left to a fantastic Daniel Craig, who was so incredible in this new avatar that you couldn’t believe he plays 007. He was especially good in two scenes: one in which he tells Mellie not to look in the rearview mirror because he was about to get ‘nekkid’ and the other in a scene where he explains the science behind his explosive to the Logan brothers.
The film is penned by Rebecca Blunt and she delivers a no-frills heist comedy. Our heroes hardly use technology and rely on science and smartness to pull off the job. It’s a smartly written film but could have done without some characters and with a little more depth. The characters that matter are well-written and the dialogues they deliver are downright hilarious.
Steven Soderbergh is not known as a pretentious filmmaker. He was frank about The Ocean’s Trilogy and the canvas those films encompassed. Similarly, he is honest here about making a heist movie with ‘rubber band’ technology. The trademark Soderbergh stamp is there in the humour of the film. It does struggle from pacing issues but that is the only complaint I have of Soderbergh’s work on the film. It is a refreshingly fun film and ends on a cool cliffhanger, making you wish that a sequel is already being written.
Logan Lucky is the return of a great filmmaker with a fun film. Watch it for the laughs and for Craig. Yes, he does get almost ‘nekkid’. That may serve as incentive for some of you.
Verdict: D (Delightful and Driven). 7/10.
Up next on CINEPHILE STOCK: Ranjit Tiwari’s musical prison drama Lucknow Central on September 15.