When I was, I don’t know, eight, I was flipping though channels in a hotel room and found myself watching the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail. It didn’t have sharks or dinosaurs in it, but neither did anything else on television, so I watched Cocktail. And it was fine. I didn’t leave Logan Lucky, director Steven Soderbergh’s return from retirement, with any particularly harsh words in mind, but I left it feeling like I did watching Cocktail, adequately entertained despite a lack of sharks or dinosaurs.
Logan Lucky is held back from greatness by a nebulous sense of self. Following NASCAR heist perpetrated by the unlucky Logan siblings , Logan Lucky is essentially Ocean’s Eleven imposed onto a facsimile of Appalachia. Imposed is a key word here, as the twisting, turning caper narrative often feels like it imposes on the best interest of the film, which itself feels like a strange imposition onto the culture it is either trying to pander or condescend to.
I walked into Logan Lucky with Stanley Kubrick’s horse track heist flick The Killing on my mind, but Logan Lucky lacks the elegance of that 85-minute classic. For all the discipline Soderbergh displays in refraining from unnecessary directorial flourishes, the script, written by suspected-pseudonym Rebecca Blunt time and time again indulges vestigial narrative threads that feel like they’re there because conventions dictate they be. The film regularly wanders off the path of what could be a concise, engaging heist, so much so that the entirety of the final act feels like it is standing on ceremony.
But even if the film were trimmed down and streamlined, what really holds Logan Lucky back is its perplexing attitude towards the subsection of America it portrays. The film’s depiction of rural America feels like The Big Bang Theory’s depiction of nerds. The Logans and their lot are the unappreciated backbone of the American workforce when the story needs your sympathy and they’re backward goofballs when it needs your laughter. As fantastic as the likes of Daniel Craig and Adam Driver are in the film, the cast of characters in Logan Lucky never feel as though they were written with a sense of authenticity in mind. Winter’s Bone this is not.
There’s never a feeling of spite or disdain on the part of the film for its subjects, but one gets the impression that Logan Lucky is more concerned with it’s expression of genre tropes than it’s depiction of the culture it imposes those tropes upon.
Despite all that, Logan Lucky is a fun, entertaining movie, but it’s perhaps one that is best discovered in a hotel room flipping by TNT on a rainy Saturday, or while Netflix and chilling or whatever you hooligans are calling it these days.