Post-Hiatus Heist: Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky (2017) – Blu-ray review
Soderbergh’s ‘comeback’ – so unassuming and under the radar, so confident in its crowd-pleasing remit, that it scarcely feels as though he’s been away.
(Steven Soderbergh, 2017)
Ah, the cliché of ‘one last job.’ It’s only four years since Steven Soderbergh swore blind he was done with cinema… and yet here he is again, returning to the high-stakes heist movie he helped define in the Ocean’s trilogy. Usually, such a comeback would have a hint of desperation, but Soderbergh – backed by a novel model of funding that meant he had nothing to lose – displays a real insouciance.
This means Logan Lucky has a cheerfully brazen, couldn’t-care-less tonal mismatch at its heart. The heist movie really is a cinema of desperation; historically, it’s the work of directors with something to lose. Think of rising star Stanley Kubrick in The Killing, or blacklisted director Jules Dassin heading to France to make Rififi. The subject matter of Logan Lucky lends itself to this lineage, its scheme the last roll of the dice for a redneck family apparently beset by calamity, but Soderbergh doesn’t hold much to such notions. He’s weathered his fair share of bad luck over the years, to the point where this film floats with an almost Zen-like adherence to having fun, pure and simple.
No matter how intricately plotted its actual crime is, there’s a remarkable casualness to this film. Soderbergh lays out the heist with an admirable clarity, but it never feels cluttered, and he gives ample time to show the characters’ lives outside of their scheming. These aren’t exactly real people – there’s an exaggerated, cartoonish quality to the characters – but Soderbergh hangs out enough with them to give a sense of what drives them: a fierce familial loyalty, a deep-grained desire to get by, a love of Game Of Thrones. Aptly, the milieu is a far cry from Vegas glamour, so Soderbergh dials down the visual bravura for a more pragmatic, no-frills camera style.
Like the Ocean’s films, this emphasis on character even in the face of such an incident-heavy narrative means that an A-list cast is flocking to work with him – who else could get Hilary Swank for a final-act cameo? Channing Tatum is now rivalling Clooney and Damon as Soderbergh’s go-to guy, and his easygoing, deceptively nuanced performance serves as the lightning rod for everyone else. Adam Driver provides an intriguing foil as Tatum’s brother, more watchful and sceptical, while Daniel Craig has a ball as a larger-than-life bank robber, chalking out science lessons mid-heist and blowing things up with gummy bears.