Has anyone ever watched a movie and got so hung up on one glaring problem that it ultimately taints the entire cinematic experience? Sometimes it’s a casting decision—like when Denise Richards was a nuclear physicist in a James Bond movie. Or when I suffered through Russell Crowe’s terrible choices as Javert in “Les Misérables.” Other times, it’s a plot choice, like in M. Night Shyamalan’s “Signs” where aliens who are deathly allergic to water decide to invade a planet covered in H20. “Logan Lucky” is a movie that becomes derailed pretty early on and never really recovers.
Most of the time I’m capable of suspending disbelief and enjoying silly abandonment of logic so many feature films woefully embrace. Does it matter “Braveheart” features Robert the Bruce and William Wallace interacting, even though they existed a century apart? Or Kevin Costner’s British accent in “Robin Hood Prince of Thieves” is about as authentic as a Scandinavian order of General Tso’s Chicken? “Logan Lucky” makes a very specific mistake I’m guessing 99 percent of the people watching won’t notice. The plot of the movie involves a good ol’ boy from Boone County, West Virginia, Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum), who puts a plan to ride the vaults at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Director Steven Soderbergh (“Oceans 11”) is familiar with such heist hijinks. Jimmy and his brother Clyde (Adam Driver) assemble a group of ne’er-do-wells to help pull off the impossible, including an incarcerated demolitions expert (Daniel Craig). The movie is a marginally entertaining caper film with some inspired performances by some good actors doing their best hillbilly impression. Unfortunately, the movie is destroyed by one glaring oversight: Boone County, West Virginia, and the Charlotte Motor Speedway are a good four to five hours away. The people behind “Logan Lucky” feel differently.
In the movie the characters move back and forth between Boone County and North Carolina’s Charlotte Motor Speedway like it’s a couple of exits down I-77. There are scenes with Jimmy leaving Charlotte, driving for a moment, and then we cut to a sign that says Welcome to West Virginia. Uhm, what? In this world, does the state of Virginia not exist? I can tell you from experience it does. If “Logan Lucky” was a geography teacher, the audience would have to repeat third grade.
I tried to get past this strange, glaring cinematic error. Every time I found myself coming to terms with the fictional geography of the film, another scene would occur where the crew would leave West Virginia and pop-up in Charlotte in a matter of minutes. There’s a scene in the movie where Jimmy’s daughter is dropped off to get ready for a pageant. They leave for Charlotte to pull off the heist, and then are able to return to watch her perform. “This is madness!” I yelled at the screen, shouted down by an audience full of people all-too comfortable with such a crime against geography. I can suspend disbelief when it comes to ghosts, aliens, transforming robots, genetically created superheroes, time-traveling high schoolers, and the undead, but don’t make the state of Virginia just disappear!
“Logan Lucky” is another inoffensive heist film that offers a little fun and a few good moments, thanks mostly to Daniel Craig. Craig gleefully chews scenery as if his life depended on it. Like the summer’s other big crime/heist caper “Baby Driver,” it’s a very stylish, hammy mediocre movie. The fun with “Logan Lucky” is in its flourishes, like watching very good actors embrace their inner idiots. But the central story they’re featured in isn’t all too interesting. As an actor showpiece, it’s worth the price of admission. As a fully-formed feature, it’s kind of an emotionally devoid bust. As a geography lesson, it’s a crime against humanity. While the movie isn’t completely irredeemable, it does struggle to become more than a poorly thought-out heist movie with cartoonish caricatures of Southern stereotypes.