I saw Steven Soderbergh‘s Logan Lucky (Bleecker Street 8.18) this morning, and I came out fairly happy or soothed or whatever. I wasn’t exactly dazzled or blown away but I don’t think was the intention. It’s a mild, easygoing entertainment. Yes, it’s Ocean’s Eleven in a rural, lower-middle-class realm, except the principal thieves (Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig) are unassumingly brilliant in both the planning and execution of a big heist, or the removing of millions from Charlotte Motor Speedway.
So far most critics are delighted with Logan Lucky. It has a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating as we speak, and an 81% rating from Metacritic. But what about Joe and Jane Popcorn, not to mention rural shitkicker types?
Soderbergh is such a master, such an exacting orchestrator. This has been said repeatedly about many films, but Logan Lucky has really and truly been assembled like a fine Swiss watch. I really love hanging in Soderberghland. I relish his dry sense of humor, his laid-back naturalism and low-key way of shooting stuff, plus his cool framings and cutting style, etc. A total pro.
I’m too stupid to understand all the logistical and strategic maneuvers, double-backs and fake-outs. To this day I don’t entirely understand every last thing about how the heist was pulled off in Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11, and I don’t care enough to see it again anyway. I’m just not very smart when it comes to this stuff.
Part of the problem today was that I was unable to hear about 35% or 40% of the dialogue because of the horrible sound system in the Wilshire Screening Room.
But I loved so much about Logan Lucky. I really did. It’s such a nicely assembled alternate-reality caper piece. It’s a light cultural fantasy thing, and is quite funny here and there. Very droll and low-key and plain spoken. But I mainly love it because it’s so well made. All hail cinematographer Peter Andrews!
And yeah, I loved the surprise appearance of Hillary Swank, but I’m too dumb to…forget it.
Of course, Logan Lucky is set in a version of Bumblefuckland that’s not quite real. Because the characters aren’t real Bumblefucks but Hollywood hybrids pretending to be the Real McCoy. Skilled, clever, laid-back smoothies performing with yokel accents and wearing the clothing and all the rest of it in a casual, pocket-drop way, and at the same time handling their complex robbery scheme in a much smarter way than you might expect garden-variety Bumblefucks to do, or anyone for that matter who isn’t an Einstein-level genius at pulling off robberies.
George Clooney‘s Danny Ocean would be seriously impressed by these guys.
I loved the Act One bar-fight scene with Seth McFarlane (“Show a little respect”), but how many people are accomplices in this speedway robbery? Quite a few when you count all the prisoners and girlfriends and ex-wives, etc. An awful lot of yokels who will have to keep their mouths shut for the rest of their lives for everyone to be safe.
Rififi taught us that it’s not the robbery but the aftermath that causes problems. An unlawful scheme is only as good or secret as the weakest or dumbest member of the gang. Somebody always rats, spills to the cops, talks to prosecutors
This is a fantasy flick…I get it. On the other hand Soderbergh has always been too smart and clever for Joe and Jane. He just can’t do the dumb-down thing the way they like it.
Here’s the problem: On one hand you have some rural, lower-middle-class schlubs who were stupid enough to fall for Donald Trump‘s bullshit and have thereby set the country on a path that could turn out to be truly ruinous (and are therefore, I believe, really bad people), and yet these same dipshits are absolutely brilliant masterminds when it comes to pulling off a complex speedway heist. So they use their brains in one respect but don’t use them in another.
After a while I was saying to myself, “This is a cool film but it doesn’t add up. Not in the world that I know, at least.”
Tatum, Driver and Craig are much smarter than the guys who pulled off the Rififi or Topkapi heists, but they and others like them were dumb as fenceposts when it comes to making a common-sense choice as to who would make the best U.S. President, or at least not destroy the concept of basic sanity in terms of serving in the Oval Office.
The bottom line is that I didn’t believe that fat Tatum (and he really is a fucking lardbucket in this thing) and Driver and Craig could ever be as brilliant as all that. If they were truly brainy fellows they wouldn’t be doing time in jail and roaming around in pickup trucks and getting laid off and tending bar and driving forklifts and all the rest of it. But I loved the fantasy that North Carolinians and West Virginians could be this cool, this sharp, this ahead-of-the-game.
I’m seeing Logan Lucky again on Monday at a different venue (i.e., not the Wilshire) in order to understand more of the dialogue.