On January 30, 2013, Steven Soderbergh blasted Hollywood one last time - condemning them because they had no respect for directors and proclaiming the film "Side Effects" to be his last film. The general assumption was that he scored so much money off "Magic Mike" (production budget of $7-million and worldwide gross of $167-million; net $160 million or so) that he was actually blowing off the industry. He was pretty pissed about the way he was treated with the TV movie Beyond the Candelobra.


Well, that retirement was brief for the 54-yer old director as here he is - with his pal Channing Tatum - in this high octane heist spoof that was written by a phantom screenwriter named Rebecca Blunt. The screenwriter thing is only of slight interest because it seems to be heavily influenced by Soderbergh's "Ocean's 11,12, and 13" series. (Besides, he often uses the psuedonym of Peter Andrews as cinematographer, so Blunt is probably himself.)

But since George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, and Matt Damon have pretty much moved on to [ostensibly] more serious projects, this was Soderbergh's version with a nod to his Southern heritage. Um, yes, though he is identified as a New Yorker, Soderbergh was born in Atlanta and raised in Baton Rouge Louisiana. And nothing is more Southern than NASCAR.


The movie revolves around a hard luck character named Jimmy Logan, a washed up football player who was washed up before his career began. He even has a hard time keeping the day labor jobs in West Virginia because he has a noticeable limp and the bosses don't like seeing that. We learn that right off when he gets canned from a job when his boss see the limp on camera.


Jim's brother is Clyde (Adam Driver) who had a taste of bad luck when a part of his arm was blown off in Iraq while he was in the military. Now he's a two-bit bartender with a serious chip on his shoulder - especially toward foreigners. The two bros make a fine pair, carrying on the tradition of the "Logan Curse" of bad luck.

The bad luck continues when Jimmy's ex wife Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes) decides that she and their daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie) are dumping West Virginia and moving to another state. Jimmy loves his little girl and sees this move as an effort for Bobbie Jo to take Sadie away from him completely. He needs money and he needs it in a hurry.


So he devices a plan to rip of the Charlotte Motor Speedway - the home of NASCAR - after learning where all the money is stowed. It seems it's rolled up into those little vacuum tubes and shot under the track to an awaiting holding area. The plan is to intercept the dough before it gets to the vault. All they need to do is get to the tube.


For this they need a munitions expert friend - Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) - who could help them accomplish this goal. However, he has one little problem; he's currently locked up in prison. So the plan is to break him out of prison, rob the track and get him back in prison without anyone noticing. It is a ludicrous plan at the very least.


But this isn't a film about practicality, it's about fun. Southern fried fun. In fact you could call it "Ocean's 11" with a southern twang. All the right people - and the support cast is great too - doing all the right things in a taught, nicely present charade.


Probably the most interesting thing about the film is the cast; all playing against their type and doing it well; delivering memorable one liners that make some of the tiniest roles monumental. Danielle Craig and Hillary Swank are a blast!


"Lucky Logan" is a fun romp welcoming Steven Soderbergh back to the movie industry he despises so much. It's a lot of "Ocean's 11" with a lean toward "Smokey and the Bandit". It is the most intelligent farce in years.   -- GEOFF BURTON