August is off to a rocky start.
Following in the footsteps of a boring horror film comes a listless heist flick which squandered any potential it had.
Logan Lucky is directed by Steven Soderbergh, who helmed each of the three films in the Ocean’s series- the new ones, not the Rat Pack one from the 60’s. Because of this, I had some modest excitement heading into this film. The Ocean’s series, while not shining examples of modern filmmaking, were fun films that knew exactly what they were and what they wanted to accomplish. They were fast paced heist films that featured a bevy of clever characters that produced many fun and memorable moments. Logan Lucky attempts to recreate that formula with a new cast this time set deep in the Appalachians.
In place of George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon were Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and Daniel Craig as the members of a misfit crew of criminals setting out to rob a NASCAR race in North Carolina. The premise is there, but there simply is not enough energy, excitement or wit to live up to the Ocean’s series. None of the new characters can match the charms of those played by Clooney, Pitt or Damon, though Craig’s character comes the closest. The main issue is that every character in the film feels as though they should be a side character. None of them are quite deep enough to serve as the leads in the film, and each could shine in smaller, more focused roles alongside more compelling leads. To make all of this worse, Hillary Swank shows up in the final third of the film, and she apparently forgot how to act. While none of the other characters are strong enough to be leads, at least the performances were solid, but Swank sounded like she flew in the night before and phoned this performance in for an easy pay-check.
The other major issue is that there is no villain in the film. When rooting for criminals, they need to be very charming, and there needs to be someone worse that they are stealing from. We have already covered the lack of charm which is compounded by not having anybody to root against. The closest thing there is to a foil are two dimwitted security guards or an obnoxious British car sponsor played by an obnoxious actor, Seth MacFarlane. There is never enough reason for the audience to care about the success of the heist, as it didn’t really matter who they were stealing from.
Finally, the heist itself just is not very compelling. It is not overly complex, and so there isn’t the same level of satisfaction when watching the pieces all fall into place. Had the heist been full of twists and turns with a huge payoff, then it could have overcome some of the average characters. Unfortunately, it was very straightforward with very little to reveal at the end. Weak characters, a hole in the script in place of a villain and an uneventful heist combine their powers to create a film that just manages to rise above pure mediocrity. It isn’t bad, and it had more fun moments that Annabelle: Creation, though that is not high bar. It may be a fine film to watch on an airplane. Otherwise, it is just a weak heist film that live up to its own potential.