Channing Tatum Is ‘Logan Lucky’ in Steven Soderbergh’s Exuberant Heist Film

If the “Ocean’s 11” franchise were to have a southern redneck, NASCAR loving, trailer park cousin, you would have “Logan Lucky.” Steven Soderbergh, the director behind the glamorous George Clooney and Brad Pitt-fronted “Ocean’s” franchise, delivers another heist film that contains well-balanced elements of humor, eccentric characters, and an elaborate plan just crazy enough to work.

Perhaps the most entertaining part of “Logan Lucky” comes from the witty and sharply penned script from a first-time screenwriter, Rebecca Blunt. As every piece of the puzzle falls into place, the North Carolina setting provides a rural landscape for an eclectic group of characters to coexist. The script finely walks the line of redneck caricatures, as they remain sympathetic in their endeavors.

Leading the ambitious heist is Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum), a blue-collar worker, who after getting laid off of his construction job concocts a plan to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway during NASCAR’s busiest weekend, the Coca-Cola 600 race on Memorial Day weekend.

Of course, Jimmy needs a little assistance, and along the way enlists the help of his bartending younger brother, Clyde (Adam Driver, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”), and an incarcerated Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), who is currently serving time for committing a robbery years earlier.

For the three leading men, “Logan Lucky” presents the actors with the opportunity to shine in a new light. Tatum, who also serves as a producer on the project, put on the weight to play a blue-collar southern guy. Trading in some vanity, Tatum is consistent with the charm and is a delightful lead. It is also refreshing to see Craig hang up his British Bond persona for something equally as tough, a little more lighthearted, fun, and, well, trashy. Driver impressively holds his own as the one-armed war veteran, who is willing to do anything for his older brother. In the mix of veteran actors, Driver doesn’t get lost, and proves he can play with the big guys.

For Soderbergh (“Behind the Candelabra,” “Magic Mike”), the film is his first in four years, after the acclaimed director announced his retirement – but he needs no time dusting off his skills. The pacing of “Logan Lucky” could have easily stalled during heavy exposition scenes, but Soderbergh keeps the story moving in a consistently entertaining manner.

As the plan unfolds, Jimmy’s sister, Mellie (Riley Keough), his baby mama, Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes), and her current beau, an overzealous car salesman, Moody (David Denman) take part – whether they know of their involvement or not is half of the fun.

A tight-laced F.B.I. Agent, Sarah Grayson (Hilary Swank), who doesn’t appear until much later in the film, and a cocky, fame-driven NASCAR driver, Max Chilblian (Seth MacFarlane), steals the show in every scene. Albeit their screen time is limited, it is just as memorable. As the plot thickens, every character crosses paths in more ways than one. The intricacy of the script is commendable, and it is executed with ease. Suffice it to say, the film is immensely enjoyable and audiences would be lucky to see the Logan brothers return.

Logan Lucky” opens in theaters Aug. 18.