“Logan Lucky”

 

            This one could be called “The Hillbilly Heist.”  These characters from rural West Virginia conspire to rob a motor speedway while there's a race.  The ensemble cast is a collection of cameos and caricatures where some of the moving parts work better than others, but on balance, it's kind of harmless fun, even if the ending is a bit weak.

            Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) is a blue-collar worker at an underground excavation site, which has been quite a comedown for the former football star, now dragging a bum knee, along with his embarrassment about not becoming the big deal everybody expected of him.  We want to like him because he loves his little girl, and loves spending time with her, even though his ex and her new husband enter her in children's beauty contests.  Jimmy is close to his brother, Clyde (Adam Driver), who lost his left hand while on his second tour of Afghanistan, but now he's consigned to bartending duty at the local watering hole, aptly entitled “Duck Tape.”  Along with their sister, Mellie (Riley Keough), who labors as a local hairdresser, they make plans to rob a race track, but they need a professional's help.  And so they turn to Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), who still has five months to serve at the nearby prison, but he's still game to bust out and help as long as his two brothers, Sam (Brian Gleeson) and Fish (Jack Quaid) are invited to join in the fun, as well.

            What follows is a mostly-humorous attempt to get Clyde into jail long enough to help get Joe out, by staging a prison riot, followed by a fake fire alarm.  The warden (Dwight Yoakum) and his henchmen are conned by the inmates, and the thieves manage not to have a falling-out because nobody gets greedy.  Best of all, they show us viewers what we missed while the “con” was being orchestrated.

            Not all the cameos are effective (Hilary Swank's role is truncated and subdued.) Not all the gags work (taking money from a guy in the woods in a bear suit?).  Some of the hick accents are either consistent, laid on a little too thick, or both (Daniel Craig, the Brit who played James Bond, actually does a better job than Adam Driver, the Julliard-trained Californian).  You get the feeling that the cast had more fun play-acting this comedic farce than we do watching them enjoy playing against type.  But it's a decent summer popcorn movie.

 

Questions for Discussion:

1)                  Have you ever thought about robbery?  What stopped you?

2)                  Who in your high school was expected to go far but didn't?

3)                  Who in your high school wasn't expected to do much but did?

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association