LOGAN LUCKY ***

Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig. 2017, USA, 112 mins, Comedy.  Released in the UK by Studiocanal on DVD and Blu-Ray on 26th December.

 

Quite how serious Steven Soderbergh was when he said he was retiring from directing feature films back in 2013 is anybody’s guess, yet LOGAN LUCKY marks his return to the chair for the first time since BEHIND THE CANDELABRA.

That was a brilliant bio-pic of Liberace that had studios running scared from financing it before HBO picked it up, leading to record-breaking ratings for a T.V. movie in America.

 

For his return, Soderbergh has played things safe and made a film that structurally follows OCEAN’S ELEVEN, his most entertaining and commercially successful film.

 

From the lead character being referenced in the title to an ‘And introducing…’ gag in the closing credits (Julia Roberts then, Daniel Craig now), it’s fair to say this was made for the Ocean’s crowd. It stops short of being a re-make, but in addition to the aforementioned, North Carolina has replaced Las Vegas, the Coca-Cola 500 race has replaced the Heavyweight boxing bout, gamblers losses become ticket and retail money and it all climaxes in a slickly constructed heist in which the audience is always one-step behind the script.

 

The primary difference is in the cast and their subsequent characters. The suave clan of Danny Ocean’s A-list crew have been replaced with all the more deadbeat characters, some of whom you can hear think. Lead by Channing Tatum’s Logan and his brother and one-armed bartender Clyde (Adam Driver), much of the humour derives from the characters, alongside some smart pop-culture references and broad comic dialogue within Rebecca Blunt’s smartly written script.

 

That it does feel familiar is not an issue, for it is a formula that served Soderbergh well before and ensures that this return is an enjoyable and entertaining two hours. It remains to be seen where he will go from here, and that this does end on something of a teaser for a sequel is perhaps concerning given the debacle that was OCEAN’S TWELVE. For now though, we can at least be thankful for a return that provides some light-relief and likeable performances from a good cast.

 

Phil Slatter.

 

 

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