After a four year sabbatical Steven Soderbergh is back in the director’s chair with the stellar Logan Lucky. Returning to his tried and true heist formula that worked so well in Ocean’s Eleven Soderbergh proves here that he hasn’t lost that magic touch.

The setup is as delightful, and straightforward as these films get as we follow the main protagonists Jimmy (Channing Tatum) and Clyde Logan (Adam Driver) who set out to execute an elaborate bank heist. As with all heist movies there’s always a catch. The catch here is that the vault in question is located under the raceway of the Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Both brothers are no strangers to crime, but have the dreaded “Logan Curse” that haunts the family. Having served numerous stints in prison one gets the impression that not a lot of the brother’s plans quite go as planned.

What’s a heist movie without a colorful cast of supporting players? Logan Lucky has got plenty! Helping execute the robbery is Jimmy and Clyde’s beautician sister Mellie (a memorable Riley Keough wearing gorgeous acrylic nails), and a trio of hillbilly brothers. Sam (Brian Gleeson), Fish (Jack Quaid), and the incarcerated Joe (a hilarious Daniel Craig). Joe, who has a penchant for cracking safes, is the key player for breaking into the speedway vault. Breaking out Joe out of prison for the afternoon is just one hurdle for the Logan brothers to jump as they set out to accomplish one of the unique cinematic bank robberies ever committed to film.

Soderbergh wisely knows here that the script is all about character, and never lets the story upstage them. All of these actors have pitch perfect chemistry with each other, but it’s Craig here that’s the real standout player. Here’s an actor who rarely gets to be funny, and it’s fun to watch him let loose with this loose canon character. It’s might not be too far off to say Craig might be an best supporting actor wild card for next year’s Oscars?

On top of the fun of seeing the heist unfold there’s also an undeniable sweetness to the movie that’s delivered in small, but potent moments. The opening scene of Jimmy fixing his car explaining the lyrics of a John Denver song to his young daughter, or a charming encounter Jimmy has with a nurse (played by the outstanding Katherine Waterston) are some of its tender moments that keep the film from turning too generic.

Opening without a lot of fan fair at the tail end of summer it might be one of the biggest surprises of the year for audiences looking for a break from sequels. Choosing to release the film without a major film studio behind it Soderbergh wanted more creative control over the finished product, and marketing of the movie. A daring move for the Oscar winning director to make when original scripts these days in Hollywood are often hard to get produced. Almost going back to his days of gorilla indie filmmaking Soderbergh here proves that a slick looking movie doesn’t need to be a product of the Hollywood machine.

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