Steven Soderbergh is back to directing feature films with the recently released southern-fried heist-comedy Logan Lucky. This is an enjoyable late-summer offering with a busy plot, featuring one narrative strand that could’ve been jettisoned with no overall harm being done to the movie. I’m surprised that this little pisser of a film wasn’t a tad tighter from a construction stand-point, because there’s a certain point where you feel the movie is going to satisfactorily end, and it doesn’t, and I’m not sure what purpose the final scene is trying to establish, other than a thoroughly needless sequel? But regardless of these minor quibbles, I laughed a lot and hearty with the red-neck humor and there’s some very witty dialogue in Rebecca Blunt’s debut screenplay (whether or not Blunt actually exists is something that Soderbergh the clown can only answer…), and as usual, Soderbergh’s frequent aesthetic collaborators, director of photography Peter Andrews and editor Mary Ann Bernard, did very strong work with some great individual shots and some super-sharp cuts respectively. After directing every single episode of the totally dynamic but way-too-short-lived Starz series The Knick (one of my favorite TV shows ever), I can’t wait to see what else Soderbergh has up his cinematic sleeve; I really hope he doesn’t pull a phony-retirement again.
The starry cast is a roll-call of big-time talent just cutting loose and having a blast with the wink-wink material, with Daniel Craig running away with the movie at all times, while Channing Tatum and Adam Driver both anchor the piece with laid-back charm and many moments that tickle the funny bone. The jaunty, jazzy and playful score by David Holmes is a constant pleasure, adding lots of background flavor to the entire piece, to say nothing of the jamming classic rock selections that litter the soundtrack. However, an intervention must be staged on behalf of Katherine Waterston; her short hair-cut, also recently seen in the woeful Alien: Covenant (even more egregious there) has GOT TO GO, as it’s not very flattering. Look out for child-actress and total scene-stealer Farrah Mackenzie who nails her role as a Little Miss beauty pageant contestant (“Nobody likes a fat girl”); this entire portion really solidifies the emotional relevance of the story. Katie Holmes and Riley Keough look trashy-hot in their bit parts, and even if the film feels decidedly minor in the grand scheme of Soderbergh’s brilliant career, it’s still a joy to have a low-tech movie that’s this much FUN getting a theatrical release, even if ticket-buyers shrugged their shoulders and turned a blind-eye to it on opening weekend. Their loss, and that’s a shame, because this one enjoys pleasing itself and the audience in equal measure.