Steven Soderbergh announced his retirement from filmmaking back in 2003 to focus on oil painting but after already going back on his word to direct for television, now he makes his fully fledged feature comeback with comedy crime caper Logan Lucky. The madcap plot follows downtrodden construction worker Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) who, with the help of his one-handed brother Clyde (Adam Driver), hatches a plan to rob his former employers when he gets laid off. To assist with their cunning scheme to steal cash from a NASCAR speedway track on the day it’s biggest rally, they recruit incarcerated safecracker Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) and his idiotic brothers. What could possibly go wrong?
The pacing is slow and steady in the beginning, and time is taken to build the dynamic between the host of eccentric players in the piece. This early groundwork pays off handsomely as the story takes shape, and the big laughs are earned not only in the big set-piece of the hillbilly heist the plot centres around but in the little callback gags that give layers to the wacky comedy and warmth to the characters. There’s a sharp intelligence in the screenplay that contrasts with the simpleton sensibilities of the souls it surrounds, with the typical Soderbergh twists that prevent the audience from jumping to its own conclusions.
Channing Tatum was underused in the director’s last project but is now back in the spotlight, given the space to flex his comedy muscles. He’s never been one to take himself too seriously and as Jimmy Logan, he doesn’t have to, relishing the droll delivery of the dialogue with Adam Driver, who I think is equally terrific. Their ‘brothers-in-farms’ bond is a delight to watch. Daniel Craig will no doubt bag the headlines in his most covert undercover mission ever, exploding onto the scene around halfway as bleached bomb expert Bang. His is the most outlandish of the performances, but everyone is on very fine form.
Soderbergh makes a welcome return with a hilarious and surprisingly heartfelt joyride, telling a chaotically haphazard tale with such measured finesse and sophistication. His plucky protagonist has hidden depths and Tatum balances the scale effortlessly between being the foolish anti-hero and the doting father figure to his young daughter Sadie, who is portrayed brilliantly by Farrah Mackenzie . Logan Lucky really hits the jackpot.