The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan



Steven Soderbergh doesn't like to tell stories in a conventional way. It's one of his most admirable qualities as a filmmaker. However, it also means that, more often than not, you have to find your way into the vibes of his movies. For a short while, Logan Lucky feels as though it might not come together. Figuring out what's happening and why is a bit confusing for half an hour or so. But this is just Soderbergh being mischievous. Suddenly, the pieces click into place, and we're left with a delightfully offbeat comic heist picture that ranks among his most entertaining works to date.

Channing Tatum plays Jimmy Logan, a blue-collar construction worker who loses his job. Desperate for money, he enlists his one-handed bartender brother Clyde (Adam Driver) and his hairdresser sister Mellie (Riley Keough) to help him pull off a heist. The target is the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. And he wants to do it during the biggest NASCAR race of the year. To accomplish this, Jimmy needs the help of the only robber he knows: Joe Bang (Daniel Craig). Since Bang is in prison, the siblings have to break him out, execute the heist, and get him back inside the joint before anyone realizes he's missing.

Initially, Logan Lucky seems like it's going to be little more than a redneck version of Ocean's Eleven. It isn't. These characters may not be traditionally sophisticated or worldly, but they sure aren't dumb. The heist they try to pull off is ingenious. Even hinting at what they do would take away some of the fun. It does, however, involve inside knowledge Jimmy has. He worked on areas of the speedway and therefore knows some of its vulnerabilities. (Pneumatic tubes play a hilarious part.) Of course, crazy complications ensue, yet that doesn't detract from the fact that the gang is pretty smart when it comes to covering all their bases.

The heist is fun, but the detailed inside look at the workings of a speedway really makes Logan Lucky special. Soderbergh, working from a script by the non-existent “Rebecca Blunt,” is incredibly specific in showing how the money moves around at a speedway, as well as how employees maneuver behind the scenes. Without this kind of specificity, the movie would be just a garden variety robbery flick. With it, Logan Lucky is nothing short of unique.

All the actors do excellent work creating quirky characters. Tatum is very funny as a guy who knows it's easy to underestimate him and doesn't want to give anyone the chance. Driver compliments him well, playing Clyde as a “Debbie Downer” type who thinks the family is cursed. So does Keough as a woman whose career as a hairdresser has taught her how to stay quiet and absorb important information spilled to her by others.

Daniel Craig turns out to be the surprise. He shows an incredible knack for comedy, giving Joe Bang an appealing mixture of malice and Southern sass. One of the funniest scenes finds him improvising an explosive device using, among other things, gummy bears, then becoming frustrated when his cohorts don't understand the science he's relying on. Craig should definitely do more comedic work going forward.

Logan Lucky winds its way to one of the most intriguing endings of the year. The last two minutes put the story into a new perspective, revealing the full depth of a theme that's been lurking quietly throughout. It's just one more way that the movie surprises and satisfies.

Soderbergh previously claimed that he was retiring from filmmaking. Thank goodness he didn't stick to that, because he's come back with a winner.

( 1/2 out of four)

Logan Lucky is rated PG-13 for language and some crude comments. The running time is 1 hour and 58 minutes.

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