Sunday, 3 September 2017

Film Review: Logan Lucky is the kind of film you never want to end

After reading the script for Logan Lucky under the intentions of recommending a suitable director for film, Steven Soderbergh came out of retirement to become said director - and it isn't hard to see why. Rebecca Blunt's script is focused, funny and delightfully enjoyable. It's the kind of script any director would want to get their hands on, and Soderbergh brings the pages to the screen effortlessly. Around two thirds of the way into Logan Lucky, during one of the film's calmer moments, I found myself wondering how long was left of the film, but not because I was bored. Rather, because I was kind of hoping it would never end.

We follow the Logan brothers: Jimmy (Channing Tatum), a promising footballer turned construction worker, and Clyde (Adam Driver), a one-armed bartender who previously served in the war. When Jimmy's life threatens to completely derail with his ex-wife and young daughter about to move away, the brothers plan on using Jimmy's knowledge of an underground vault system to illegally obtain a rather large amount of cash. Basically, they're gonna steal a tonne of money from a pretty wealthy company.

So Logan Lucky is a heist movie. It establishes its characters swiftly and gets onto the exposition dumping segment in which the plan is all laid out for us so that we're able to follow everything that comes later without the film having to stop and explain everything to us every five minutes. Blunt's script handles this exposition overload smoothly though, lacing her peppery dialogue with great one liners and subtle character insights. She does a fantastic job of making us feel and understand the relationship between the two brothers, giving the film a solid emotional core to run alongside its heist narrative.

Helping matters even more is the film's cast, almost all of whom are playing characters you'd never expect them to. Tatum relishes in playing a character whose defining personality trait isn't "the hot one", giving Jimmy a kind of history the script wisely only hints at. When he talks of his footballing past there's a genuine sense of regret to him, even though we know the situation (an injury) was out of his hands. He carries the limp to this day though, as a permanent reminder of what his life could have been. It's a strong performance from Tatum, both reliably funny and surprisingly earnest - a handful of sequences between Jimmy and his daughter are seriously touching.

Driver is equally as off-brand as the one-armed Clyde. Clyde is a more serious soul than Jimmy but, in order to work, the character needs Driver's ability to look as if he could go absolutely insane at any moment. The pair work great as a double act too - a scene involving Jimmy's arm and a giant vacuum may be one of the year's funniest film moments, and their dialogue in an early prison scene is so consistently funny you wonder how the scene equally finds time for narrative work.

Rounding off the main trio is Daniel Craig as Joe Bang, a convict who happens to have a pretty solid understanding of safe-cracking and bomb-making. The guy is totally nuts though, and Craig clearly has a blast with his performance here - Joe should become grating after about three scenes with him, but Craig knows exactly when to dial down his performance and when to ramp up the deliriousness. If you could list the sort of characters Craig should be playing, Joe Bang would probably be right at the bottom - and yet here we are. Between his rapid fire dialogue and cackling laugh, Joe is an undeniably fun character to watch, and Craig brings him to life brilliantly.

Logan Lucky isn't all go all the time, though. In fact, its first act is almost slow in the time it takes to establish its characters and their stories - but the film never feels dull. You never long for it to get to the next scene. When it isn't being a enjoyable heist comedy it's exploring its characters, or it's finding a moment of tenderness in a sad story, or it's working on quietly setting up its brilliant conclusion. Blunt's script is seamless in its pacing, and Soderbergh's direction is excellent in its translation of it. Logan Lucky takes on more tones than most films could handle, but the transitions between them are barely noticeable at all.

Logan Lucky is a blast of a film, and one I'd heartily recommend to anyone in a heartbeat. It's fun, it's funny, and by the time it reaches a giant singalong of "Take Me Home, Country Roads" you might question how you got there, but you'll still be loving every second of what you're watching. It's a film where everyone involved is clearly having a great time, and it's an infectious feeling. When the credits started rolling I was smiling from ear to ear - I dare you not to have fun with it.

In A Sentence

Making the most of its offbeat premise, Logan Lucky is a delightfully enjoyable heist comedy packed with great one-liners, memorable characters and brilliantly off brand performances.

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