MOVIE BUFF-ET: Soderbergh delivers another solid heist flick with ‘Logan Lucky’

Bleecker Street

Director Steven Soderbergh is up to his old hijinks again with another heist movie, but this time out in “Logan Lucky” he trades the Ritz and glitz of Las Vegas where his “Ocean’s 11” film and its sequels were set for the dusty roads of West Virginia and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600.

Where the Ocean’s films were white-collar sleek, the Logan crew is blue-collar to the core, but in their own winning way just as clever and nearly as efficient as Clooney and Crew.

Channing Tatum and Adam Driver lead a sturdy ensemble cast as the hard-luck Logan brothers Jimmy and Clyde. They are aided and abetted by their sister Mellie (Riley Keough), incarcerated explosives expert and safecracker Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) and his shifty but born-again Christian brothers Fish (Jack Quaid) and Sam (Brian Gleeson).

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Jimmy’s a former hometown football star who walks with a limp after a career-ending injury. While working a construction job at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, he’s laid off because his employer’s insurance company sees his limp as a liability.

After visiting with his daughter at his ex-wife’s and getting into a fight with flamboyant British businessman Max Chilblain (Seth MacFarlane) at Clyde’s bar, Jimmy hatches a plot with Clyde, who spent six months in juvenile detention because of one of Jimmy’s failed plans, to rob the race track.

It’s a daring plot that involves perfect coordination and timing as well as breaking Joe Bang out of jail and back in before anyone knows he’s missing. The devil, of course, is in the details, which don’t come together quite as well as Jimmy had hoped.

Soderbergh’s fine direction and editing choices are the star of the film, keeping the movie on track and coaxing entertaining performances from most of the ensemble cast.

Tatum is becoming more likable and natural as a performer as he becomes more comfortable in his own skin. It was almost painful to watch him act just a few years ago, but his subtly is welcome in this role.

Driver’s accent is a little too over-the-top, but he offers fine comedic support as a veteran of Afghanistan who lost a hand at war. His character Clyde is resolute in his support of his brother, even if it means going back to jail.

Craig steals nearly every scene he’s in playing a part that varies wildly from the James Bond role that made him a star. Unfortunately MacFarlane and Katie Holmes, who plays Jimmy’s ex wife, Bobbi Jo Logan Chapman, add little to the movie.

While not his most sophisticated work, Soderbergh crafts an entertaining movie that hits most of its marks. The film is relatively simple for a heist movie, but that’s to its credit.

Grade: B
(PG-13) 1 hr. 59 min.

Classic Corner

Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D
(R) 2 hr. 17 min.

If the new film’s opening this weekend aren’t exactly your speed, but you still want to get out of the house to see a movie, local theaters have options for you.

Not only is the 112 Drive-In showing a 1980s-themed double feature of “Back to the Future” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” tonight through Sunday but the AMC Fiesta Square Theater is also offering a blast from the past, showing “Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D.”

If James Cameron’s 1991 classic wasn’t eye-popping enough, it’s been given the 3D treatment for the re-release.

Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of 3D, but if anyone knows how to do 3D well, it’s Cameron. His animated sci-fi/fantasy flick “Avatar” is still the all-time box office champion in terms of gross ticket sales, and its 3D effects are one the biggest reasons why.

While the film is almost 26 years old, the special effect from “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” hold up remarkably well even without the 3D treatment. It will be interesting to see whether the 3D is a welcome addition or a distraction.

The film itself remains a solid story with outstanding action; although, its strength has been diluted due to the familiarity of the property. Several poorly realized sequels have tarnished the property, but the movie remains immensely entertaining if sci-fi action suits your taste.

In fact, it’s hard to think of a better, more accessible film that deals with time travel and a possible dystopian future. Some prefer the grit of the 1984 original “The Terminator,” and it’s hard to argue with them. It’s a great little sci-fi movie.

However, the sequel is a magnificently huge sci-fi spectacle with two fine performances at the heart of the film by Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and Arnold Schwarzenegger as titular cyborg.

Hamilton defined the role of a female action hero for the 1990s and beyond, transforming the character of Sarah Connor from a damsel in distress in the first film into warrior with the goal of protecting her son John Connor (Edward Furlong) so he can grow into the resistance leader he’s intended to be.

While doing that, she’s as dead set on thwarting Skynet’s artificial intelligence from initiating a nuclear holocaust that allows the machines to wrestle away control of the future.

Cameron and Schwarzenegger made the actor’s stiff, emotionless delivery work to great effect in the original movie. However, with seven years of acting experience under his belt, Arnie comes off just as brutal in the sequel, but this time offers a subtly touching performance as the T-800 cyborg sent from the future to protect young John Connor.

Some place Schwarzenegger’s performance on a pedestal next to Boris Karloff ‘s as the Frankenstein’s monster from the hey days of Universal Picture’s classic horror films. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but Arnie is effective, even touching acting as Connor’s shield and protector. In his first acting role, Furlong has just enough natural swagger to make the relationship work.
Robert Patrick lacks Schwarzenegger’s innate charisma, but as the T-1000 assassin sent back in time to off the Connors, he makes a formidable liquid-metal adversary.

While home video offers a terrific viewing atmosphere, films like “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” were created to take full advantage of the theatrical experience. Cameron made sure his film delivered with story and effects, and that’s no less true for first-time viewers today than back in 1991.