Logan Lucky is a hillbilly heist movie that spends most of it time tricking you into thinking that it’s much dumber than it is. However, the surprise of its intelligence is mitigated by reliance on heist movie tropes.
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In Boone County, West Virginia the Logan family is known for being unlucky. Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) is a divorced dad struggling to keep a job and the ability to visit his daughter, Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie). His sister Mellie (Riley Keough) is a hairdresser, and a speeding maniac, who also helps Jimmy out by babysitting her niece. Jimmy’s brother, Clyde (Adam Driver) is an Iraq war veteran who lost his hand while on deployment.
After a run of bad luck, including getting fired from his job working construction at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and finding out that his ex-wife, Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes), is planning on movie his farther away, Jimmy is fed up. Things hit a low point when a snobby sports drink salesman, Max Chilblain (Seth MacFarlane), comes into the bar and gets into a fight with the brothers. Jimmy comes up with a plan to steal money from the Charlotte Motor Speedway during a small race. In order to pull of the job, Jimmy recruits the help of his brother and sister, as well as demolitions expert and known crazy-man, Joe Bang (Daniel Craig). Joe insists that they also use his two newly-religious younger brothers, who agree to help because the job fits their “moral requirements”.
Before Joe can help them, they need to deal with the fact that he’s in prison. In order to do that, Clyde gets himself arrested and sent to the same prison where Joe is. They work together on plans for his escape while the rest of the team sets things up on the outside. Admittedly, things aren’t looking great as the entire crew consists of hillbillies and rednecks who appear to be taking on a task that’s out of their depth. Even so, Jimmy seems confident that they can do it. However, things take a turn when Jimmy finds out that the job has to be pushed up by a week, which means that they’ll be robbing the track on Memorial Day weekend, during the biggest race of the year.
From here, the plan plays out in a continuous series of well coordinated events. Joe ends up making himself sick in order to be sent to the infirmary, where Clyde is stationed. They pay off some other prisoners to start a riot, sending the prison into lock-down because the warden refuses to call for back-up and reveal that there’s a problem at the prison. The duo sneak out and hide underneath a truck leaving the prison, with the aid of a carefully constructed rig that they built in prison. They are picked up by Millie, who’s tricked Bobbie Jo’s new husband into getting a high-performance car so that she could steal it for the job. She races Clyde and Joe to the Speedway in between helping Sadie at her pageant. Meanwhile, Joe’s brothers use a homemade explosive to take out a networking point. This stops the credit card machines at the Speedway, forcing all patrons to use cash.
Moving quickly, Jimmy, Clyde and Joe make their way to a series of pneumatic tubes that carry cash throughout the Speedway. This is what Jimmy saw when he was working on the Speedway. There, Joe creates a smoke bomb that they send through the tubes. When the bomb goes off inside the vault, it breaks the closing lid on the tube, allowing them to vacuum the money through the tube into some trash bags. They run into some problems, when Joe’s brothers can’t figure out how to work the door to the stadium in order to get the cash out. There are also security guards roaming around trying to find the source of the smoke coming through the stadium’s tubes. Clyde also loses his prosthetic arm in the vacuum. Despite the problems, they are actually able to pull the job off, make it out of the stadium, and sneak Clyde and Joe back into the prison. Jimmy even manages to make it to Sadie’s pageant in time to hear her perform.
After hearing Sadie perform a rendition of “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, Jimmy seems to have a change of heart about the heist. News reports show the money from the “Hillbilly Heist” was returned to the speedway. Joe is also shown to be angrily hunting for Jimmy who has left town, not even letting his brother know where he is. It turns out that this is all part of Jimmy’s plan. With the FBI still looking into the case, we see the full extent of Jimmy’s plan. Aspects of the heist are replayed showing that Jimmy was actually working a different angle. He purposely made it look like he’d reneged on the heist in order to throw off the investigation. As soon as he figured out that the investigation was suspended, he covertly recovered a smaller amount of money. That was his real target for the heist. In the end, he also made sure everyone involved in the heist (willingly or not) was paid off.
- I could be wrong about this, but I believe that they identified Jimmy Logan as being a football prospect at LSU, a southeastern football powerhouse.
- There are lots of little nods throughout the movie. One of my favorites is in the credits. Daniel Craig is credited as “Introducing” because he’s playing so far against type for himself.
- One of my favorite moments in the movie is when the prisoners refuse to believe the George R. R. Martin hasn’t finished the Game of Thrones book series.
What did I think?
The term “Hillbilly Heist” is the most perfect description of this movie. The entire movie is an exercise in subverting the tropes of characters that are usually played in movies as the doofy, incompetent sidekicks. Jimmy is a wash-ed up athlete, turned construction worker who’s best days seem to be long behind him. However, he’s also a leader and a careful planner who’s used to high pressure situations. Clyde seems to just be an odd duck and a bit of a simpleton. He’s also a trained soldier, loyal brother, and very resourceful. At first look, Mellie seems like a trashy hairdresser; probably the kind of person that jail-bait grows up to be. As it turns out, she’s an incredibly skilled driver with intimate knowledge of the roads, traffic and police patterns. Joe Bang is a crazy man, but he’s also skilled with explosives and the science behind them. Joe’s brothers are…well, his brothers are pretty much the hillbilly idiots that they seem to be.
Most of the comedy in the movie comes from watching these characters who seem like they have no business planning a heist, seemingly bumble through the process. We’re never really given an inkling that there’s a reason that this heist should go off as planned. There’s a real sense of “what are this idiots doing?” while you’re watching. Then, at the very last moment, it looks like the heist fails.When it fails, it’s not because of the multiple complications that they ran into, or because they’re incredibly convoluted plan fell through, it’s because Jimmy seemed to have a change of heart. Again, this is a result of the movie skillfully playing into the trope of the deadbeat dad who’s trying to do better for his innocent child. They paint a familiar picture that makes you believe that Jimmy would actually do that.
All of this set-up pays off brilliantly when the heist starts and you start to see just how competent these characters are in their own right. This effect is magnified when you see that Jimmy has been running a heist under the heist that we’ve been watching. To me, the most impressive thing about all of this is that it plays in a way that’s meant to delight the viewer, not to reprimand them for their preconceived notions about the characters. Watching things unfold comes off as a pleasant surprise.
Of course, there are some problems with the movie. The most notable is the introduction of a love interest for Jimmy, played by Katherine Waterson. She literally shows up in one scene before the end of the movie. She’s there just long enough for us to find out that she might’ve had a thing for Jimmy when he was a big deal back in high school. Apparently, this was supposed to be enough to establish her as a romantic interest and she reappears at the end of the movie for the “happily ever after”. This whole aspect of the movie really struck me as being unimportant.
Instead of giving him a romantic interest, I wish that we had been able to spend more time on the agents who come in at the end of the movie to investigate the heist. They play out an entire crime drama in the span of about 15 minutes as they try to track Jimmy’s actions. That felt like it could’ve almost been another movie by itself. Instead, the characters are presented as being fairly one dimensional. At least, until the very final moment of the movie where we see that one of them may be more tenacious than anyone expected.
Logan Lucky is fun and breathes some new life into the heist movie genre. Heist movies are actually one of my personal favorite types of movies. After the Ocean’s franchise seemingly milked the genre dry, it’s become harder and harder to create a heist movie that’s got some really surprising elements. That’s why movies like Now You See Me get my attention when they can put a new wrinkle onto a familiar formula. This is another one that I’m going to file away in my list of successful modern heists.
Logan Lucky (2017)
- This cast is very strong and plays some very
- The reveal at the end really saved the whole movie for me
- Daniel Craig's character is insane
- At some points, it's hard to watch idiots planning a heist
- It was really hard for me to get a read on Adam Driver's character