Logan Lucky: Flavorless Southern Fried Filmmaking
Review by Aaron Haughton
Hollywood hatchet man Steven Soderbergh emerges from a brief hiatus ("retirement" seems too strong a word) with the southern fried heist film Logan Lucky, which feels like a mixture of Ocean's Eleven and The Dukes Of Hazard. The film is star-studded and packed a little too full. Mostly, it's a mildly funny satiric caricature of the south wrapped as a heist film with far too many moving parts to completely keep up with or care about.
I think of Soderbergh post-Traffic as a kind of jarred salsa you pick up in the supermarket. In that context, I picture him as household-name brand and of the "mild" variety. I say "mild" because if you really think about it, it's devoid of spice (which in film can be interpreted as risk) and lacks any flavor. In short, it's fairly bland and just OK. That, to me, sums up Soderbergh in a nutshell, as well as Logan Lucky.
With any film touting a myriad of "big name" actors, it's all about character and performance, which Logan Lucky is crammed full of. Possibly a little too full. None of this is enhanced either when the script is a bit on the weaker end. For instance, you get on-the-nose chuckles like a character named Joe Bang who is conveniently infamous for blowing safes, which he also conveniently does with his patented bomb, aptly named "Joe Bang." It's these kind of lazy and convenient har-har things that make up a majority of the script. I suspect it's the reason the studio roped Soderbergh into direct -- besides to make the "Ocean's 7-11" joke seem oh-so much more elevated and meta -- and wrangled up the recognizable cast.
For the most part, each character panders to the cliché that southerns are simpleminded or just plain dumb, which isn't exactly true. All the laughs are yuck-yuck laughs and stem from the characters' stupidity. We get jokes and jokes and jokes on incorrect word usage, failed attempts as recollecting the national anthem, and even simply opening a door. The characters' stupidity is played up so much that it's impossible to believe that they're able to pull of a heist of this magnitude, unless it were planned by little Saddie Logan (played by Farrah Mackenzie), who is ironically the smartest character.
It's a bit messy, narratively confused at times, and about a half hour too long, but I will say that it would probably be a messier more mediocre offering if placed in the hands of another filmmaker. It's got a handful of genuinely enjoyable moments and laughs (the best being a silly Game Of Thrones joke, which may be the films most sophisticated moment) spread across its 2 hour runtime, but it's ultimately uninteresting.
The film suffers from its inability to really connect us to the characters and their situation. There's no real conflict during the whole film, and the notion of conflict doesn't even make an appearance until LATE in the third act. And, of course, everything conveniently goes off without a hitch, and, of course, it's more elaborately devised than any of us could believe, given how stupid our characters are. It's just a popcorn film for people that want to shut their brains off for a few hours; a résumé builder and an easy paycheck for all involved.
Overall, it's an example of a film trying to do the most. Like I said before, it's just OK, and that applies to every aspect of the film; there is nothing truly exceptional about it. I personally would've preferred Soderbergh to stay dominantly in the arms of retirement than to venture back into Hollywood's pocket for yet another soulless, mediocre endeavor. Hard pass on this one. Wait until streaming or Redbox.
Rating: 3 Bob Seger T-shirts outta 5.
What did you think of the film? Did it work for you, or did you also feel like it was a flavorless film? Was it genuinely funny, or yuck-yuck funny? How does it stack up against other Soderbergh films? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and, as always, remember to viddy well!