PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — So much for retirement.
It seems like only yesterday (actually, it was 2013) that Steven Soderbergh, the eclectic, Oscar-winning director of, among other films, Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Out of Sight, Magic Mike, and Ocean’s Eleven through Thirteen, announced his retirement from directing movies.
Well, his “Never mind” project is Logan Lucky, which the returning director himself characterizes as Ocean’s 7-11.
Which is to say, it’s a playful crime thriller, a hillbilly heist flick, kind of a blue-collar cousin of the Ocean trilogy.
Channing Tatum stars as Jimmy Logan, an unemployed construction worker who has been anything but lucky, losing in short order his football career because of an injury, his job, his marriage (to Katie Holmes), and custody of his daughter.
Folks in West Virginia, where Jimmy lives, see him and his family as not only unlucky but jinxed or cursed.
His brother, for example, a bartender played by Adam Driver, lost the lower part of his arm in Iraq.
So, yes, the film’s title is ironic, to say the least.
Jimmy’s desperate need for money drives him to plan a robbery of a NASCAR rally at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina, where Jimmy used to work.
First order of business: to spring aptly-named explosives expert Jimmy Bang, played by a blonde, crazed Daniel Craig, out of prison.
Last order of business, after the money is stolen: to break Bang back into prison before the warden notices that he’s missing,
Now how could something like that go wrong?
Katherine Waterston, Seth MacFarlane, and Hilary Swank are also along for the ride, which is on the bumpy side but not unpleasantly so.
The screenplay by Rebecca Blunt, an allegedly debuting screenwriter who may or may not exist, carries the film along breezily enough in the early reels, but then runs out of gas before some of the cars do, winding down in the late going rather than speeding up and paying off.
Still, the film is decidedly watchable, even if less engaging or impressive than the Ocean adventures, and it generates its share of down-home humor.
So we’ll race around 2-1/2 stars out of 4 for Logan Lucky, Steven Soderbergh’s self-hosted, Southern-fried un-retirement party.