If Steven Soderbergh is not the most overrated movie director of all time, he is right down there on the list from hell, jockeying for position. Except for Erin Brockovich, Behind the Candelabra and a few moments in Sex, Lies and Videotape, I have hated just about everything he’s ever done. Now I wish I could agree with my colleagues who are fairly gushing with joy over a thing called Logan Lucky, but I’m too busy finding a place for it squeezed somewhere between the paralyzing tedium of Solaris and the terminal stupidity of Full Frontal.
In the brain-dead script for Logan Lucky, a sub-mental, broke and recently fired West Virginia coal miner and con artist named Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum, in the worst performance of his career) enlists his one-armed brother Clyde in an elaborate, preposterous heist to rob a NASCAR race called the Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Clyde (Adam Driver, deadly enough to make you take back everything you said about Paterson), is a doofus bartender (Iraq, you know) who has trouble mixing drinks because, as if one arm wasn’t enough of a job deterrent already, the water shortage has been contaminated by the nearby chemical plant. The boys need money because it ain’t easy making ends meet when you’re dumb as a flat bicycle tire, and so does the boys’ sister Mellie (Riley Keogh), a hairdresser who doesn’t seem to know a hot comb from a portable mixmaster. The robbery plans proceed slower than all seven of Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11 movies put together, but they need the help of a safe cracker named Joe Bang (Daniel Craig, peroxided, tattooed and slumming, his suave James Bond image obliterated with a cornpone Southern accent so thick you couldn’t cut it with pinking shears) and they’ve got to break him out of jail first, then get him back in again before the warden notices.
LOGAN LUCKY ★
A farcical prison break follows, involving IV drips in the infirmary, much vomiting, a riot in the mess hall, and an escape through the toilet. The actual heist with explosives made from Gummy Bears (don’t ask) is so contrived and silly that I couldn’t believe the audience around me, convulsed in hysterics. The number of cons it takes to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway grows in every new scene; by the time they all blow up the underground cash-handling vault and suck up the money through the ventilation system with vacuum cleaner hoses, the rednecks begin to look and talk so much alike that I could no longer tell one from another. Master plans crash head-on with interminable snafus, scheduling mix-ups, and bad timing. Then, when everything jells, a tough FBI agent (Hilary Swank, of all people) enters the plot and threatens a sequel. Colorful camera work, raucous music and endless ham acting is in abundant supply, but it’s not enough. I thought Steven Soderbergh had retired. And now this. Even the title makes no sense. The result is a misguided crowd of highly paid stars playing outrageous characters because they’re fun, with no regard for quality. It doesn’t work. Logan Lucky is as charming and welcome as toenail fungus.