If you’re looking for some essentially light-hearted end-of-summer entertainments, it would be hard to go wrong with either Logan Lucky or The Trip to Spain. Logan Lucky marks Steven Soderbergh’s return to film directing after a hiatus (which some might have called a premature retirement).
It’s another heist comedy, only the participants are anything from the smooth operators of the Ocean’s 11 romps. Here the lead is the heretofore unlucky Logan (Channing Tatum): he’s lost out on a promising football career by blowing out his knee, he’s just lost his construction job at Charlotte Motor Raceway, and now he’s faced with the prospect of his divorced wife moving their daughter to another state. Logan’s solution is to use his knowledge (gleaned from aspects of his former job) to rob the Raceway. He needs a lot of help however, including his bartender brother (Adam Driver), his adventurous, devoted sister (Riley Keough), and most importantly, the services of a detonation expert, Joe Bang (Daniel Craig)—who just happens to be in prison, a few months away from finishing out this term. How Logan manages to break Bang out of jail in order to take part in the robbery and get him back before anybody notices, is only part of the fun.
Rebecca Blunt’s script (which Soderbergh was only going to produce before he decided to direct himself) provides not only a number of inventive touches but also some well-honed character-driven scenes, and some welcome humor, along with some surprising warmth, courtesy of the interactions of Logan and daughter (Farrah McKenzie), and Logan and an ex-classmate turned doctor (Katherine Waterston). The heist scene itself is fairly suspenseful (with some oddball touches), and the build-up takes time to sufficiently sketch out the characters and their somewhat quirky motivations.
In a movie filled with fine performances, especially from Tatum, Waterston, Driver, the top honors go to Daniel Craig’s Joe Bang.
Craig seems to be enjoy being liberated from the shackles of Bond (who’s gotten mighty doleful these days), and he responds with an energetic and engaging performance filled with so many little flourishes (you’ll never see hard-boiled eggs quite the same way) that you’ll hope he’ll leap into character leads and leave the tuxedo and martinis behind. Until that day happens, at least you can savor his performance as Joe Bang in the very enjoyable Logan Lucky.
The Trip to Spain is the welcome third installment in the Michael Winterbottom/Steve Coogan/Rob Brydon trilogy
The others being The Trip and The Trip to Italy in which a scenic road trip (ostensibly for the purpose of Coogan’s reviewing the cuisine of various regions—with Brydon as companion/foil) provides the backdrop for ruminations on mortality, morality, fame, relationships, friendship, and even some history thrown in—not to mention ample opportunities for celebrity impressions (each is a gifted mimic). Coogan and Brydon play heightened versions of themselves, and while there some other characters (as well as no shortage of scenic vistas and appetizing cuisine), the real joy comes from watching their often-inspired interplay. If you’ve seen their previous outings, rest assured there are plenty of laughs, as well as some moments that delve into the pair’s shortcomings (especially the narcissism of Coogan’s character). However what is always evident is how much they revel in each other’s company, and the inspired banter yields a number of hilarious exchanges, including riffs on David Bowie, Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Marlon Brando, Robert de Niro. (The dueling Ian McKellen impressions overstay their welcome—but Michael Caine is represented again!) The Trip to Spain is one worth taking, whether it’s for the third time—or the first (but check out the other Trips after).