Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Daniel Craig, Adam Driver, Channing Tatum, Sebastian Stan, Hillary Swank, Katie Holmes, Katherine Waterston
Runtime: 1 hr 59 mins
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 7 September 2017
Synopsis: In this turbocharged heist comedy from Academy Award(r)-winning director Steven Soderbergh, West Virginia family man Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) leads his one-armed brother Clyde (Adam Driver) and hairdresser sister Mellie (Riley Keough) in an elaborate scheme to rob North Carolina's Charlotte Motor Speedway. To help them break into the track's underground cash-handling system, Jimmy recruits volatile demolition expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig). Further complicating the already risky plan, a scheduling mix-up forces the thieves to execute the job during the Coca-Cola 600, the track's most popular NASCAR event of the year. As they attempt to pull off the ambitious robbery, the down-on-their-luck Logans face a final hurdle when a relentless FBI agent (Hilary Swank) begins investigating the case. Also starring Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes, Katherine Waterson, Dwight Yoakam, Sebastian Stan, Brian Gleeson and Jack Quaid.
There are many things happening in Steven Soderbergh’s latest film. Yet, they seem to come nicely together under Soderbergh’s masterful direction to form a piece of coherent work.
There’s Channing Tatum’s (The Hateful Eight) Jimmy Logan, a hardworking labourer who just got sacked from his job. A loving father whose daughter is about to enter a beauty pageant, he formulates a plan to steal money from the company that fired him. Then there’s Adam Driver’s (Silence) Clyde, a bartender with a prosthetic hand. He happens to be Jimmy’s brother, and the two agree to collaborate on the heist. Riley Keough’s (Mad Max: Fury Road) Mellie is the third member of the gang, and the fiery woman is the two men’s sister.
Next, we have Daniel Craig’s (Spectre) Joe Bang, a safecracker who is behind bars. The crude man has two brothers Sam and Fish (played hilariously by Brian Gleeson and Jack Quaid), who aren’t the smartest human beings you’d meet. And there you have it, three more members are added to the motley crew.
Elsewhere, there is Katherine Waterson’s (Alien: Covenant) Sylvia Harrison who runs a mobile clinic surviving on donations, Katie Holmes’ (The Giver) Bobbie Jo Chapman who is Jimmy’s ex wife, Seth MacFarlane’s (Sing) Max Chiblain who is an obnoxious businessman, Sebastian Stan’s (The Martian) Dayton White who is a pretentious racer using the media for a comeback, and Hilary Swank’s (New Year’s Eve) Sarah Grayson who is a FBI agent hell bent on catching the thieves.
Confused by the number of characters and their personalities already? Just go along for the ride and experience Rebecca Blunt’s story unfold in two hours. Nicely paced and smartly developed, the comedy doesn’t take its viewers for granted. You will be expected to follow Soderbergh’s nimble tempo of putting different threads together. The 54 year old filmmaker will not spoon feed you with the obvious – and that is why you will feel a sense of satisfaction when you realise how the story is being pieced.
Without giving away too much, here are some other components of the film that will leave you impressed with the filmmakers’ storytelling skills. There is a “cauliflower” code word, a fleet of coloured cockroaches, a My Little Pony plaster, gummy bear candies, dietary salt substitutes, an energy drink sponsorship deal and a heartfelt rendition of the song “Take Me Home, Country Roads”.
Did we also mention that the 119 minute movie features cameo appearances by NASCAR drivers and broadcast commentators?
Back in 2013, Soderbergh had announced in several interviews that he plans to retire from making feature films. After promoting 2013’s Side Effects, he announced his departure and stated that “movies don’t matter anymore.” The man who delivered those fun moments in Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007) was taking a break.
Whatever made Soderbergh return to making films, we are glad that there is this freshness at the cinemas because the number of superhero movies, novel adaptations and convenient sequels are beginning to feel tiresome.
(This heist comedy would have been a mess if it was left in the hands of a less capable director – welcome back to filmmaking, Steven Soderbergh!)
Review by John Li