Logan Lucky, B
Rated PG-13, 119 minutes
One of the funniest lines well into the charming heist flick "Logan Lucky" when someone refers to the heist as "Oceans 7-11." The director of "Logan Lucky" is the director of the latest "Oceans" films, Oscar-winner Steven Soderbergh, and he travails familiar territory here, with this being essentially a Southern-fried "Oceans 11," but also a good contrast between West and East coast heists (casino vs. NASCAR race). Predictable but funny, touching and well-choreographed, the chemistry from an eclectic cast helps carry the under-the-radar film, which hasn't generated much buzz.
West Virginia family man Jimmy Logan ("22 Jump Street's" Channing Tatum) teams up with his one-armed brother Clyde ("The Force Awakens'" Adam Driver) and sister Mellie (Riley Keough of the recent "It Comes At Night") to steal money from the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. Jimmy also recruits demolition expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig, 007) to help them break into the track's underground system. Complications arise when a mix-up forces the crew to pull off the heist during a popular NASCAR race and increasing their chances of getting caught.
"Logan Lucky" is an entertaining, humorous and Southern take on the heist game, led by some guys who are the polar opposite of Clooney and Pit and seemingly not the brightest crayons in the box yet who still manage to pull a few surprises along the way. It's directed, photographed and edited by Soderbergh with a script by Rebecca Blunt, much like the guys who lead the robbery, it seems standard-issue heist stuff at first, until it pleasantly pulls a few unexpected twists late in the film.
Tatum, Driver and Craig are the driving forces here, taking the Clooney, Pitt, and Damon roles here, and the lovely, rising star Keough (and Elvis's granddaughter, as a side note) in the Julia Roberts role, and their solid chemistry helps carry the film through a few uneven patches. Driver, as the one-armed bartender, is especially a hoot, definitely looking and sounding like someone from the deep, deep South.
"Logan Lucky" is similar in narrative to the "Oceans 11" films but also the recent "Baby Driver," in that its flashy choreography and execution entertain, but when you dig down a little further, there isn't a lot left except an overlong plot and a bevy of talented actors in tiny parts, including Katie Holmes, Dwight Yoakam, Katherine Waterston, "Family Guy's" Seth MacFarlane (in an ill-fitting wig), and Oscar-winner Hilary Swank, all of whom must've really wanted to work with Soderbergh.
"Logan Lucky" is entertaining, often hilarious and in one scene that has Tatum's Jimmy seeing his daughter sing the John Denver classic "Take Me Home, Country Roads" as a dedication to him, quite touching. Still, Soderbergh lets it go on too long, and the first two acts could've been tightened to speed up the action - these hillbillies seem ready to rob, but they're certainly not in a hurry to do so.
"Logan Lucky" is an enjoyable heist flick and a pleasant, late-summer gem when most studios are burning off some of their unsatisfying fare. Fortunately, this isn't one of them.