May 28, 2017

Trailing Off: "Logan Lucky" (2017)

Scene from Logan Lucky
Welcome to the sporadic column Trailing Off in which I take a look at a trailer from the past week and analyze its potential. This will be done using an obnoxious amount of analyzing and personal thoughts on the cast and crew as well as expectations. I will attempt to highlight films ranging from new blockbusters to lesser known indies and give them their due. Partially to spread awareness, I do believe that there is an art to the sell and will do my best to highlight why these trailers matter or don't with approval (trove) or disapproval (trash). So please stop by, recommend some trailers, and I will see you next time.

Trailer in Discussion

Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Written By: Rebecca Blunt
Starring: Katherine Waterston, Seth MacFarlane, Channing Tatum

- Preamble -

Back in 2013, it looked like it would be the end for director Steven Soderbergh. That is, at least on the big screen. Side Effects was touted as his farewell movie. It received underwhelming recognition for someone as acclaimed as him, but it did lead to a fruitful period on the small screen, which included an HBO movie (Behind the Candelabra) and an incredible TV series called The Knick. For a man that arguably was retired, he stayed busy and found new ways to be prolific. By some luck, he has rescinded his cinematic retirement and has decided to pair up with some of modern Hollywood's youngest and brightest for Logan Lucky.
It is hard to call this a comeback, largely because it doesn't feel like he went anywhere. Had it not been for the unfortunate cancelling of The Knick, he probably would've stayed busy for quite some time. Instead, it was only a matter of time before he found a project that called him back to the big screen. Even then, his return is met with a surprise because of how much he seemed to work away from cinema during this time. It made whatever his next project would be into the hottest thing on the market. The only question now is if he will deliver anything as delightful as his initial run, plus his fruitful "farewell" period that spawned the Magic Mike franchise along with some of his most acclaimed and recognized work.
I will be honest that Soderbergh is a bit of a tough call for me. On one hand, I really like his later work. I'm a bigger fan of Side Effects than most, but most of my love comes from The Knick. Otherwise, his movies tend to leave me a little cold, as I find him calculated in ways that isolate the experience. He's still an important director full of great projects, but the amount of times that I personally enjoy them aren't on par with most people. I can only hope that this time away from the big screen has done him good and what follows is a rejuvenation that will get him into a lot of conversations come the end of the year.

- Dissection -

For starters, I love the interplay that happens in the opening cards. While it's nothing new to have director credits at the start of the movie, Soderbergh's titles roll off in a stylized word font. It reads off Oceans 11Oceans 12, Oceans 13, and Magic Mike. To some extent, that will get you set up in understanding the style of the film. It is a bank heist movie that follows Channing Tatum. The only new tool is that it is a madcap comedy full of some great eccentric performances. For starts, Daniel Craig looks to be in top form as Joe Bang!! (I think the exclamation points are part of the name) as he talks in a calculated southern accent that hits a silly side quite frequently. Equally, giving Adam Driver a fake arm as a character trait makes this more eccentric, and makes it feel like this is secretly an homage to Coen Brothers movies.
With all of this said, it just looks like a whole lot of fun. It's a bank heist at the Daytona Speedway. While it's usually more focused around sports movies, it does seem like an odd and eccentric fit for this. That may be the point. Everything about this film feels calculated in ways to suggest an underclass struggle. Everyone has their own issues, and maybe this will be more of a societal commentary movie than the trailer lets on. Even if that's not the case, the trailer manages to have some fun moments that make it a bummer that this would be mistaken as a obsolescent August movie.
There's a lot to enjoy out of the supporting cast as well. While the screen time is largely given to Adam Driver, Tatum, and Craig, the various title cards introduce additional players. Speaking as most of them are at the height of their careers right now, it's exciting to see what they could do. Even if it's a split second, there's a lot to wonder about Seth MacFarlane's accent, which is met with an equally cartoonish face. Otherwise, the big focus of this group is Hillary Swank, who looks to be having the most fun as a villainous character. As a whole, this cast is definitely strong enough to win anyone over. One can only hope that Soderbergh still has the charisma to pull the movie off.

- One Sentence Sell -

Oceans 11 director Steven Soderbergh returns with an even crazier and sillier bank heist movie full of eccentric archetypes played by great actors.

- Trove or Trash -

If nothing else, this makes me want to see the movie. It has plenty to like, and I am glad to see Soderbergh staying busy these days. I wish it was for The Knick, but from the looks of it I'll settle for Logan Lucky.

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