“I just don’t think movies matter as much anymore, culturally,” infamously unpredictable filmmaker Steven Soderbergh told the Guardian in 2013—one of the many legit reasons he gave when he announced he was quitting movies forever.
So naturally, four years later, the infamously unpredictable Soderbergh has a new comedy—Logan Lucky, a movie that aims to undermine Hollywood’s traditional distribution model, a movie whose screenwriter may or may not exist, and, most importantly, a movie that’s a goddamn delight.
Splitting its time between West Virginia and North Carolina, Logan Lucky follows the perennially unlucky Logan family—earnest single father Jimmy (Channing Tatum), his one-armed bartender brother, Clyde (Adam Driver), and their speed-demon sister, Mellie (Riley Keough)—as they try to pull off a heist at the biggest NASCAR race of the year. Along for the ride is crazy-eyed explosives expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig); Katie Holmes, Katherine Waterston, Dwight Yoakam, and Hilary Swank pop up too. (The only less-than-fantastic player is Seth MacFarlane, whose contributions prove, as usual, tiresomely superfluous.) The music of John Denver plays a big role, as do nods to Charlie Daniels and Bob Seger and Creedence and trusty Ford F-150s.
But what keeps Logan Lucky moving are its relentlessly clever script and Soderbergh’s affection for his deadpan characters. As the Logans’ preposterously complicated scheme plays out, Logan Lucky is consistently hilarious—Driver’s poker face and Craig’s gleeful cackle are particular highlights—and unexpectedly sweet. And to get back to that Soderbergh quote: In an era when America’s economic disparities threaten to tear the country apart, watching a bunch of blue-collar Southerners try to screw over the rich and undermine class-based capitalism certainly feels culturally relevant.
But I don’t want to hang too much weight on a goofy heist movie: More than anything else, this thing is fast and funny and fun—and a reminder of how much better movies are when Soderbergh’s making them. Here’s hoping he sticks around.