Monday, 28 August 2017

LOGAN LUCKY : Tuesday 22nd August 2017.

'Behind the Candelabra' (the dramatisation of the last ten years in the life of Liberace starring Matt Damon and Michael Douglas as released in 2013) was intended to be Steven Soderbergh's last film as a Director, but here with 'LOGAN LUCKY' which I saw last week, he has been coaxed out of self imposed 'retirement' by a script that he noted was an 'anti-glam version of an Ocean's movie where nobody dresses nice. Nobody has nice stuff. They have no money. They have no technology. It's all rubber band technology!' And so having amassed an ensemble cast, here Soderbergh has crafted a heist film (on which he is Director, Cinematographer and Editor) that has met with widespread critical acclaim. The film cost US$29M to make, was released in the US last week too as it was in Australia and has so far grossed US$16M.

Here, Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) is a labourer working on an underground construction job at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. He was once tipped to be a major league football star but a leg injury put that dream well beyond reach. Noticing that he walks with a limp, a pre-existing injury he did not divulge on his work application, he is called into the office by the site foreman, and laid-off. Later that afternoon he visits the home of his ex-wife Bobbi Jo (Katie Holmes) to pick up his young daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie) and Bobbi Jo tells him that the family are moving across the State border to Lynchburg, Virginia. This angers Jimmy, as it will curtail his access to his daughter.

That evening Jimmy visits the bar run by his brother Clyde (Adam Driver) who is an Iraq War Veteran having lost his lower left arm and hand, and now wears a prosthetic hand. Clyde, while pouring drinks, gets melancholy with Jimmy about the curse of the Logan family and how they seem to have an endless run of bad luck and ill fortune plaguing their lives. In walks Max Chilblain (Seth MacFarlane) with two of his minders. Max is a wealthy British businessman who made his fortune out of an energy drink and sponsors a clean living former racing champ looking to make a comeback, Dayton White (Sebastian Stan), in the upcoming NASCAR race at the Speedway. Max insults Clyde, a fight breaks out which results in Jimmy torching Max's $80K sports car.

The next morning Jimmy divulges a plan to Clyde to rob the haul of cash from the Speedway circuit, using a recently installed state of the art pneumatic tube system that they accidentally uncovered when working on the underground construction project. The two of them will access the system during a forthcoming car show when security will be thin on the ground and attention will be diverted elsewhere. Clyde reluctantly agrees to the plan having thought his criminal past was behind him, and so the two brothers enlist the help of their sister Mellie (Riley Keough), Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) - serving a prison sentence for robbery, and his two half-witted brothers Sam (Brian Gleeson) and Fish (Jack Quaid).

Jimmy and Clyde visit Joe Bang in prison to pitch their plan, but Joe reminds them that he has just six months of his sentence left to serve, and how do they think that he can do the job given that he is 'IN-CAR-CER-A-TED!'. Joe likes the idea of the plan and insists that if he is to come on board, then he will need to be broken out of prison and returned immediately after the job is done, and no-one needs be any wiser that he was 'out' in the intervening period! Clyde deliberately drives his car though a petrol station window and gets locked up for three months, so that Joe has a contact on the inside and together they can work from prison on finalising their plan for their temporary escape.

Meanwhile Jimmy, readying plans on the outside with Mellie, Sam & Fish, learns that the construction project at the Speedway will be completed ahead of time, forcing the gang to move their plan for the robbery ahead of schedule by one week. Everything remains the same expect for the date, which now coincides with the biggest NASCAR race event of the year - The Coca-Cola 600 over the Memorial Day weekend.

From the inside, Joe and Clyde arrange for the other inmates to stage a riot, so causing a diversion that will allow them to escape unnoticed via the infirmary, and then underneath a delivery truck for which they have fabricated wooden boxes with which to conceal themselves to make their getaway. They are picked up outside town by Mellie, in a stolen sports car, and delivered to the Speedway on race day, while Sam & Fish using an improvised explosive devise blow the electrical grid so knocking out all the electrics to the stadium. This means that all the food and beverage vendors have to revert to cash only sales on the busiest day of the year. In the meantime, Jimmy, Clyde and Joe are down in the bowels of the building ready to blow the main pneumatic pipe that takes the tubes of cash from all around the stadium to one central drop off point, which is where the gang of three are located. Also using an IED made form gummy bears and bleach Joe blows the system sending plumes of smoke billowing out through the tubes in the food service outlets. A staff members calls it in, and guards are sent to investigate, but a diversion set up by Jimmy, prevents the guards from uncovering the ongoing heist.

And so the three start vacuuming up the paper dollar bills and loading them into tie up black garbage bags. Needing to speed up the process, the vacuum is ratcheted up to full pelt only for Clyde's prosthetic hand getting in the way and being sucked up the inlet tube. With the job almost done, Sam and Fish masquerading as garbage pick up men drive off with their truck load of garbage bags up to the upper levels to unload to Jimmy's waiting pick-up truck. Clyde and Joe need to get back to prison, leaving Jimmy to retrieve Clyde's missing hand from inside the vacuum machine. On the way back through the back of house areas of the Speedway Stadium, Clyde and Joe and intercepted by Max and his driver Dayton White who crashed out mid-race. Max is furious at his expensively sponsored race driver, and during their argument Max recognises Clyde form the earlier brawl at his bar. Joe quickly deals with the situation by blowing out Max's lights, so they can resume their prison bound journey.

The heist is a success, Clyde and Joe break back into prison on the back of a fire truck when the staged rioting inmates mock up a fire in the canteen so alerting the Fire Brigade, and Mellie, Sam and Fish getaway unhindered. Jimmy, however, feels guilty about the robbery and calls the Police to his abandoned pick-up truck containing the garbage bags of stolen loot. FBI Special Agent Sarah Grayson (Hilary Swank) is assigned to the case, but all of her leads take her nowhere - due in part to the incompetence of Warden Burns (Dwight Yoakam) and his guards at the prison where Clyde and Joe are serving time, Max Chilblain whose egotistical opinionated and arrogant views can't be trusted, and the administration management back at the Speedway who are covered by insurance anyway. The case is promptly closed down and Grayson is reassigned, much to her chagrin, because she smells a rat, she just can't see it!  Joe is eventually released having served his time, and he returns to his old home. One morning there is a knock at the door, and a shovel left for his attention. Knowing the meaning of this, he unearths a tied up garbage bag of cash buried under a tree in his back yard.

It seems that before informing the Police of the stash of cash in his pick-up truck, that Jimmy secreted away several bags of loot, and divided the spoils between his associates and friends who had some part to play in the heist, no matter how small. This in turn created a distraction for the investigations which subsequently were called off because the Speedway were paid out by their insurance coverage, and there was no other evidence to point the finger at anyone. All's well that ends well, leaving the gang to enjoy a much needed drink in Clyde's bar, with Clyde sporting a brand new hi-tech prosthetic hand, looked upon at a distance by a plain clothes dressed and undercover Agent Sarah Grayson.

I enjoyed 'Logan Lucky' as the antithesis of an 'Ocean's' film about a bunch of underdog down on their heels, fresh out of luck, south eastern US rednecks seizing an opportunity to change their lives that you can't help but sympathise for, as the supposed good guys (those in authority) have rings run around them. Soderbergh here has assembled a strong cast that are well matched and look as though they are having a good time making this movie too - especially Daniel Craig who is just about as far removed from Bond as he could get. He also has woven a great story that is both suspenseful, thrilling, humorous, uncomplicated, and delivers a twist at the end - in a way that few Director's seem able to. This is a welcome return for Soderbergh who here once again proves that he is one of the most original, adept and efficient filmmakers working today with another top notch added to his heist caper movie holster. Very entertaining and well worth the price of your ticket.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

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