If we had a pound for ev­ery time Steven Soder­bergh re­tired, then un­re­tired and came back with a fun heist flick, we’d have... one pound.

DI­REC­TOR Steven Soder­bergh CAST Chan­ning Ta­tum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Kather­ine Water­ston, Se­bas­tian Stan, Seth Mac­far­lane

West Vir­ginia miner Jimmy Lo­gan (Ta­tum) loses his job; des­per­ate, he en­lists his brother Clyde (Driver) to plan a rob­bery on the Coca-cola 600, one of the big­gest NASCAR races of the year.

DID ANY­BODY RE­ALLY be­lieve Steven Soder­bergh was re­tired? Cer­tainly not peo­ple who watched The Knick, which was more ‘cin­e­matic’ than most the­atri­cally re­leased films. And now the pi­o­neer of ’90s in­dies makes a wel­come re­turn to the­atres with this well-acted, slickly di­rected, if some­what fa­mil­iar red­neck heist flick — and af­ter last year’s dull Mas­ter­minds, Lord knows we needed a good one.

Chan­ning Ta­tum is on love­able beef­cake duty once again, this time as a West Vir­ginia miner with a sur­pris­ingly con­vinc­ing ac­cent. As things go in th­ese films, once laid off for the prover­bial pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tion, he promptly de­cides to rob the lo­cal NASCAR track’s big­gest day of the year. He en­lists the usual band of mis­fits, in­clud­ing his brother played, in a piece of cast­ing that stretches fa­mil­ial-like­ness credulity, by Adam Driver. Nev­er­the­less, the two have crack­ing chem­istry, and Driver’s slow-talk­ing but sharp-wit­ted bar­man, who lost an arm in Iraq, would be Lo­gan

Lucky’s stand­out per­for­mance, were it not for the pres­ence of one Daniel Craig.

Play­ing a boiled egg-lov­ing con with bleached-blond hair and lash­ings of ex­plo­sives ex­per­tise, those blue eyes of his — so cold as Bond — are here bulging with lu­nacy. He’s hi­lar­i­ous and to­tally con­vinc­ing as some­one far from the of­fi­cer-class stylings of his day job; it’s a plea­sure to be re­minded of what a good char­ac­ter ac­tor Craig can be. Throw in some would-be com­puter hack­ers and the team is com­plete. Now, what about the plan?

Heist films are all about the process, so it would be a crime to give too much away, suf­fice to say that Soder­bergh and writer Re­becca Blunt are care­ful to dole out enough info to make sure we can fol­low what’s go­ing on, but are equally care­ful to keep a few sur­prises to drop along the way.

If this is all sound­ing a lit­tle Out Of Sight get­ting it on with the Ocean’s tril­ogy and their baby grow­ing up in Trump coun­try, that’s be­cause it is. There’s an un­avoid­able feel­ing that Soder­bergh is play­ing the hits here — although it’s odd how much a char­ac­ter-driven crime flick is now such a rar­ity it feels like an ex­er­cise in turn-of-the-mil­len­nium retro. More ir­ri­tat­ingly, as with a lot of Soder­bergh

(Side Ef­fects, The Good Ger­man), there’s the lin­ger­ing sus­pi­cion we’re an­other draft or so away from some­thing spe­cial, but his fre­netic work­ing pace didn’t al­low for it. Seth Mac­far­lane cer­tainly wasn’t given enough time to per­fect his ‘English’ ac­cent. But a late-en­ter­ing Hi­lary Swank as an FBI agent (with Blue Ruin’s Ma­con Blair on side­kick duty) goes nowhere, as does an ex­tended cameo from Kather­ine Water­ston, who shows up to make a sledge­ham­mer point about the US health­care sys­tem only to dis­ap­pear once she’s done so. And while not ev­ery­thing has to have a bow on it, Lo­gan Lucky doesn’t quite have the im­pact­ful end­ing the build-up de­serves. But it’s such an en­joy­able ride to get there, that can be for­given.

Even if it needed one last push to make it truly ex­cep­tional, there’s a lot to en­joy here. And Soder­bergh once again at­tracts a cast it’s a plea­sure to spend time with.

This didn’t look like Cross-stitch For Begin­ners.

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