Almost heaven. That’s what John Denver sings about West Virginia in “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” That’s also a good way to describe Logan Lucky, director Steven Soderbergh’s blue collar caper comedy in which Denver’s classic song is memorably featured. One critic called this a “redneck Ocean’s Eleven, which is a pretty good joke, but the movie itself tops it. A newscaster is heard calling an outrageous racetrack heist as “Ocean’s 7-11.”
Like Soderbergh’s Ocean’s trilogy, the heist in Logan Lucky is ridiculously convoluted (in a good way) but the stakes are higher for its down, but not out, characters. Channing Tatum stars as Jimmy Logan, who seems born under a bad sign. As the film opens, he is laid off from his construction job. Next, his ex-wife tells him she and her new husband are moving out of state, which will make it harder to see his beloved young daughter. So what’s a good ol’ boy to do but enlist his bartender brother (Adam Driver), an Iraqi War vet with a prosthetic arm, to help him rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway?
In a rare bit of luck, the speedway was the site of Logan’s last construction job, and he knows how they move the money through a system of pneumatic tubes. The brothers assemble a crew that includes their tough as nails hairdresser sister (standout Riley Keough), and Joe Bang (Daniel Craig, who steals this movie outright), a tattooed demolitions expert with a talent for making bombs the old fashioned way, with bleach and gummy bears. One problem, he’s in jail. Another problem: the brothers’ timetable is thrown out of whack and they must pull off the job during the Memorial Day Coca-Cola 600 race. And yet another: an FBI agent (Oscar-winner Hillary Swank) who won’t stop until she catches who done it.
Logan Lucky is a hoot, a good time entertainment for hard times. Soderbergh proves yet again that it’s not luck that makes this film so much fun; it’s skill.