One of the best loved stories in the world is Robin Hood. You can see why, there is something nice about the simplistic nature of a good guy stealing money from the evil rich people and spreading it around the poor. Life is far more complicated than that of course, but it’s still a story many of us like despite the attempts of Russell Crowe to ruin it. So when films pop out about working class heroes planning to steal money, our ears do pick up as there’s a good chance it will be enjoyable. Can Logan Lucky then steal our hearts?
Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum, 21 Jump Street) has lost his job and may even see his beloved daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie, Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love) far less should her mother Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes, Batman Begins) leave the state. To stop his life going badly wrong, he and his brother Clyde (Adam Driver, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) stage a daring heist on the Carolina Motor Speedway.
directing, you know it’s going to be a good one. That’s because it does all the basics right. It needs a relatable underdog hero that you can back even though he is doing something illegal, you need a plan that is way too complicated but plays out in a very satisfying way on film and then you need a bunch of colourful characters to fill out of the rest of the cast. This film has all of that and even though it doesn’t do much different from other heist films, other than the fact the characters are all hicks of course, it works.
The characters are indeed the best part because they are just enjoyable to watch. I’m not really going to talk about Channing Tatum too much as he is probably the most boring character of the lot, but as the main star he has to be. No, the fun lies with the guys surrounding him, mostly Daniel Craig (Casino Royale). He plays Joe Bang and with that name, he would have to be the explosives expert. He is the hillbilliest hillbilly that ever did live and Craig is having the time of his life playing him. Joe has the most exaggerated redneck accent you can imagine and is just a completely out of this world character which is why he’s the best thing on screen anytime he shows up.
The best part of the film though is the heist because it’s so expertly done. While it is just stealing a lot of money from a race track, the way it’s done is so convoluted you want to see all the different pieces come together. And even though the required amount of things go wrong just to make it tense enough, when it does go right it is incredibly exciting and fun to watch. And while I don’t want to spoil anything, the heist isn’t quite as it seems and there’s enough twists in the tale to make seasoned heist movie watchers like myself actually be surprised at times.
There are some issues of course. This is a movie that wants to be very funny and has plenty of lines designed to get laughs. Unfortunately, a lot of these fail and it’s down to the writing. On their own, they are good lines that would definitely get a laugh. They certainly did in the trailer, which is a very good trailer. But the movie is edited quite poorly around these jokes and so they just don’t quite land as they should. That’s not to say the movie doesn’t get laughs, it does. But there’s a lot of jokes which should have a room rioting with laughter instead of the eerie silence and cough that instead happens.
And just on the misjudged the humour, lets talk about a terrible character which really is the worst thing about the movie. There is a business magnate called Max (Seth MacFarlane, Family Guy) and he is the worst. While most of the characters in this film are over the top, this one doesn’t feel like he is in the same film. Oddly, it is the voice actor who most struggles to do a believable accent and his character has no funny lines, not even ones that could be saved with smart editing like the others. I don’t want to be down on MacFarlane who I think is a very underrated performer, but he does not do well here and is outshined by pretty much everyone else in the film. And with his character being pretty pointless to the plot, everything would have been a lot better if was left on the cutting room floor.
I am being a bit harsh on Logan Lucky and a lot of that is down to the fact I expected more from a director who is well versed in heist movies. But even though it does lack laughs, it is still entertaining because it just does the basics of heist movies right. It has all the ingredients you need for a good one and mixes them just right to make this a very good depiction of the genre. And the twist of it being a load of rednecks doing the heist merely improves it rather than being a distraction. Not perfect, but good enough for a film night at home.