CAUTION: THERE ARE MINOR SPOILERS BELOW FOR LOGAN LUCKY (2017)
You know when a movie starts with a John Denver song, you've got a gold mine on your hands. This is a movie that may have missed your radar back in August, but one you should add to the top of that ever-growing watchlist of yours.
It's been said that Logan Lucky is the redneck Ocean's Eleven (2001), and the director of both of these Steven Soderbergh mentioned something along the lines of Logan Lucky being an "unglamorized" Ocean's Eleven. Needless to say, Logan Lucky is automatically going to be compared to the near dozen Las Vegas takeover trilogy, or at least the first film. And while Logan Lucky may not be as memorable or flawless as that George Clooney remake, it undoubtedly can find its audience, and boasts the unique style that comes with a Soderbergh film entry, including the often used but never tiresome flashbacks explaining just how the criminal operation really went down.
This might be one of the best compiled casts in a film in a long while. Almost every single person (no, not every person, more on that below) in this film delivers a stellar performance and brings their own personality and brand to the never-too-crowded mix. The two who especially stand out are Adam Driver as one-armed Clyde Logan (Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)) and Daniel Craig as conman Joe Bang (Skyfall (2012)). Daniel Craig aka our current James Bond, plays against type here, at least for the most part, and it is an absolute joy to watch. His southern accent and goofy humor catch you off guard at first, but pretty soon you're buying into every moment of it and can't get enough. Adam Driver has already proven that he can deliver impressive and nuanced performances in his growing filmography, but his role here is particularly shining. Here his deadpan, neutral facial expression and voice perfectly complement each other, and the way he delivers every single line with superb comic timing simply in his mannerisms is really a treat. Jack Quaid (The Hunger Games (2012), and son of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid) as Fish and Brian Gleeson as Sam (Assassin's Creed (2016)) bring a great camaraderie and bevy of laughs into the picture as well, as Joe Bang's younger brothers. The large majority of the rest of the cast was always delivering A+ material from actors like Channing Tatum as Jimmy Logan (21 Jump Street (2012)), who continues to show his comedic chops and ability to lead a cast, Riley Keough as Mellie Logan (Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)), Katherine Waterston (Alien: Covenant (2017)), Katie Holmes (Batman Begins (2005)), David Denman (The Office (2005-13)), Jim O'Heir (Parks and Recreation (2009-15)), and child actress newcomer Farrah Mackenzie is an absolute treasure and one to watch out for in the future. Watching these not too smooth country bumpkins try to pull off a NASCAR race heist at Charlotte Motor Speedway, North Carolina, is just worth a smile from start to finish.
Logan Lucky is by no means a perfect film, and as said before, it is not quite on par with the Ocean's trilogy, but I have to admit I only had one real qualm with this movie, and that was one of the characters who doesn't show up until the last act of the film, portrayed by Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby (2004)). Some might consider her "cameo" or role to be a spoiler, but her name was advertised in the trailer, so if you watched that then you weren't surprised or shouldn't be surprised when she shows up in this film as Special Agent Sarah Grayson. It wasn't the character herself that rubbed me the wrong way; it made sense to have an FBI agent investigating this NASCAR heist towards the conclusion of the film, but the way Swank portrayed the character seemed so off that she seemed like she was in a different movie from everyone else. This surprised me since I have always enjoyed Swank as an actress; she doesn't do anything bad here, she just doesn't fit as well with how tight the rest of the cast was together. Thankfully, it didn't detract from my opinion of the film too much since she is not present in the movie much, but her vocal line delivery still seems a bit jarring.
All in all, definitely worth a watch
If you can still catch it in the theaters, Logan Lucky is definitely worth your time. It's a little gem that got away from a lot of audiences, that has great performances, a fun story, an engaging musical soundtrack with score by Ocean's alum David Holmes, and plenty of laughs and tender moments to go around. It's a great late summer night at the movies, and despite us having been saturated with many heist films over the years, this one definitely feels fresh. It is undeniably one of the top ten films of 2017 so far. See it.