LOGAN LUCKY

Actors love to play against type. Some take it to another level.

Channing Tatum, only recently dubbed the sexiest man alive, wouldn’t necessarily be the first choice for a down on his luck anti-hero who decides to rob a racetrack once he’s laid off. Nor would Adam Driver be the first choice for his rather understated brother, the Girls star assuredly having his pick of major studio projects coming off dramatic turns in The Force Awakens and Silence.

They are no match however for Daniel Craig, in Logan Lucky playing in every respect the anti-Bond, here cheekily named ‘Joe Bang;’ a none too glamorous inmate of a West Virginia penitentiary intent on hitting up his next major score. Evidently trying to distance himself as much as possible from his most well-known role to which Craig has expressed, to say the least, mixed feelings, each of the trio are clearly having an absolute ball.

Brimming with an enviable cast, Riley Keough ably rounds out the slew of talented, familiar faces, among them Seth MacFarlane as one of the many caricatured figures, here filling one of Logan Lucky’s more curious, less considered casting calls. Katie Holmes, Katherine Waterston and Sebastian Stan, if engaging, have precious little to do, their talents, comic and otherwise, among those regretfully underutilized.

What may sound like a comedy sparingly eliciting laughs beyond titbits already heavily featured in promotional material, Director Steven Soderbergh here appears more intent on creating an engaging if irreverent heist film ala his Ocean’s flicks and Out of Sight. Neglectfully managed, the lack of any figure throughout the bulk of the film to allay the crew’s plans or give them pause renders the action absent of almost any tension. The very late and thoroughly awkward introduction of one character in this respect, played by Hillary Swank, is the focal point of a heavily misjudged and in every way tonally jarring third act. Tatum’s character pointedly writing ‘know when to walk away’ on his robbery ‘To Do List’ was but one avenue available to create a sense of conflict or greater purpose, had this element of the screenplay, among others, been adequately followed through on.

A man emerging from the woods in a bear-suit to deliver key equipment to our eclectic band too playing as one of the film’s mercilessly brief, altogether engaging yet unfulfilled turns of fancy, so much of that featured in Logan Lucky is yearning for follow-through and further introspection, the assemblage of oddities that never quite make a whole resulting in an infrequently eccentric picture that falters in making it down the truly aberrative path it craves.

Logan Lucky does deliver a few laugh-out-loud moments, namely when criminals counter-intuitively bust into a prison, in addition to a rip-roaring encounter between guards and rioting inmates; arguably the highlight of the film that strangely didn’t involve any of its main cast and which could have been rendered just as well if not better as a stand-alone sketch. The overall scheme bearing a few clever touches and otherwise realised as broadly standard fare, Logan Lucky, in spite of its exceptional headliners, can’t nearly hang a whole film on the passing novelty of seeing them do something avowedly different yet not nearly so subversive as it’s creatives might have hoped.

Logan Lucky is in cinemas on August 17