Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Written By: Rebecca Blunt
Cinematography By: Steven Soderbergh (As Peter Andrews)
Editor: Steven Soderbergh (As Mary Ann Bernard)
Cast: Channing Tatum, Daniel Craig, Adam Driver, Katie Holmes, Seth McFarlane, Katherine Waterston, Riley Keough, Jack Quaid, Sebastian Stan, Hillary Swank, Jim O’Heir, David Denman, Brian Gleeson, Dwight Yoakam, Macon Blair
When Jimmy Logan gets fired, he convinces his brother Clyde and sister Mellie to help him rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway during a NASCAR Race. But they will need the help of Joe Bang, a convicted safe-cracker who is currently doing time. All they have to do is break Joe out, blow the racetrack vault, get away with the cash, return Joe to prison, and get Jimmy to his daughter’s beauty pageant on time. What could possibly go wrong? Well, there is the Logan family curse.
This is an odd movie, the first film to be directed by director Steven Soderbergh after a so called retirement. The film bills itself as a comedy even though it isn’t really funny. It has comedic situations but never quite is hilarious. It plays more like a thriller that has some goofy elements and humor.
The film is smart and plays with the conventions of the genre. While having a little fun with itself. It’s lean and tight as the story gets going right away. As we learn just enough about each character and the plan they must put into motion and why. Even though it doesn’t seem dire except for the timeline in which they can complete it in.
The film involves a family that seems to be cursed with bad luck and their way of seeing themselves out of it by making a big score. That will at least even the odds a bit.
The film seems more designed to play towards middle Americans viewing the film. As it doesn’t go for easy jokes not parody or make fun of them. Sure some characters are played for stereotypes but most of the characters are played as pure hearted and hardworking who have unceremoniously been a victim of bad luck and circumstances and each have their own reasons for the heist.
The film gives most of the actors involved a chance to stretch and create characters they have never played before nor would ever really be asked to, Which is where the fun comes in as Daniel Craig is the most memorable and funny. Character throughout the film.
As in the film each main character throughout the film has a sense of pride. Which is what makes them partially funny at times. Craig’s Character seems to be the only likeable character who doesn’t and see’s all of this as more of a fun exercise than anything else.
The only misstep in the film comes from Seth McFarlane’s Character who is played as British and way over the top for the villain to have a more flesh and blood villain or at least hateful Character. Only he doesn’t fit in with the laid back smooth surface of the film. Though that could be on purpose as he is the only rigid piece in this more smooth surface.
The film is original in how it will sometimes introduce a character in the beginning who becomes important later. It will also wait until near the end of the movie to have an important character make an entrance and then have them be only a more minor part of the puzzle.
This also seems like a movie more put together of either actors who have wanted to work with the director or actors he seems to have wanted to work with and threw them into the film.
This film was eventually released by a studio but was paid for from selling the rights to foreign investors. So that the film stayed totally independent and Steven Soderbergh and his production company released it themselves and maintained the rights and all profits themselves. The film was distributed by cutting out studios, in order to have creative control and make money directly from the film itself. Accordingly, for this atypical distribution, Steven Soderbergh raised the budget by selling off foreign distribution rights, and then sold everything except the movie showing up in a movie theater in order to pay for advertising and prints of the movie (for example, selling post-theatrical rights to the likes of HBO, Netflix, Video-On-Demand, television, and airplanes). By following these two steps, Soderbergh was able to sidestep a Hollywood studio, and had creative control the entire time (for instance, the trailers that dropped earlier this summer were by his design, as was the poster and the entire marketing plan). Also, according to Soderbergh, under this set-up, the box-office bar for success is lower. With nearly everything prepaid, and no hefty distributor fees coming off the top, even a modest fifteen million dollar opening would be a win.
While this film is more mainstream it is also experimental to a degree more in tone and execution. As the film plays Simple but stays fascinating. Especially when it allows for actual twists that aren’t telegraphed.
At first the film seems a bit overstuffed but luckily it all comes together to make sense.
The last film that had characters and the same feel of this heartland of America was RAISING ARIZONA and maybe TALLADEGA NIGHTS. Though this were both more broad and cartoon comedic. Not to mention more fast paced.
Not a funny film but an entertaining one that doesn’t feel insulting to the intelligence of the audience.