Logan Lucky (Blu-ray) (2017)
|Year Of Production||2017|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Steven Soderbergh|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
After the 2013 theatrical release of Side Effects and the HBO telemovie Behind the Candelabra, director Steven Soderbergh announced his retirement from motion pictures, but that inevitably was not to last. Returning after what amounted to a self-imposed four-year hiatus (during which he directed all twenty episodes of the TV show The Knick), Soderbergh tackles a heist movie in the same vein as his 2001 Ocean’s Eleven remake, switching out the opulence of Las Vegas for the backroads of rural America. Logan Lucky is both uproarious and heartfelt; the filmmaker clearly has a ball suffusing the material with his trademark directorial idiosyncrasies, and the end result is highly entertaining. Even though Logan Lucky does initially seem rather slight considering that this is Soderbergh’s big return to cinema, there are in fact deeper layers to unearth, with sly satire underneath the movie’s goofy exterior.
A down-on-his-luck labourer, Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) is abruptly laid off from his job filling sinkholes beneath the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Jimmy and his amputee brother Clyde (Adam Driver) have never had much luck, which they attribute to a longstanding family curse. With a daughter to support and his feisty ex-wife (Katie Holmes) planning to move away with her new partner, Jimmy hastily seeks a big score, and hatches a scheme to pull off a heist at the Speedway during a popular NASCAR event using the pneumatic tube cash delivery system. For the heist, Jimmy recruits his sibling, along with explosives expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), who is in the final few months of a prison sentence and insists upon bringing in his two dim-witted brothers, Fish (Jack Quaid) and Sam (Brian Gleeson). With the crew assembled - including Jimmy and Clyde’s sister Mellie (Riley Keough) - they set about gaining access to the Speedway’s bowels during the major Coca-Cola 600 racing event.
Logan Lucky finds Soderbergh in familiar territory, and the screenplay feels so well-suited to his filmmaking sensibilities that it’s no surprise he came out of “retirement” to direct it himself. (Reportedly, he was initially given the script only to recommend a suitable director, but enjoyed the material too much.) In addition to the obvious Ocean’s Eleven parallels (a newscaster even refers to the heist as "Ocean’s 7-Eleven"), the more working class aspect of the story brings back memories of 2012’s Magic Mike. Logan Lucky benefits from smart scripting, shaping a wholly credible heist that’s peppered with clever details, and there’s more going on than what meets the eye. Soderbergh’s recognisable brand of storytelling is on full display - it’s deliberately-paced and laid-back, with a bone-dry sense of humour and split-second comedic timing. And as with most the director’s notable output, there are deeper themes at play. Logan Lucky does succeed as a slick, light-hearted caper, but Soderbergh appears to be presenting a somewhat uncomfortable evaluation of the age-old American Dream.
With the story unfolding in the wilds of West Virginia, there are amusingly exaggerated accents all around and the inanity of some of the characters is playfully exploited for laughs. Indeed, this is actually one of Soderbergh’s most accessible and flat-out entertaining motion pictures to date, whilst retaining plenty of artistic value along the way. The soundtrack is permeated with enjoyable songs (John Denver’s 1971 hit “Take Me Home, Country Roads” plays a major part in the story), and the comedic set-pieces hit hard. A certain scene involving Joe’s improvised explosive device at the Speedway manages to be nail-biting and funny in equal measure, but even more uproarious is an ongoing prison standoff between the warden (Dwight Yoakam) and the convicts, who are trying to obfuscate the absence of Joe and Clyde. As Warden Burns stubbornly refuses to tell the outside world about his situation, the inmates only request to be given access to George R.R. Martin’s final “Game of Thrones” novels, refusing to believe that they are not finished yet and the TV show has progressed beyond the source. Logan Lucky is a good-looking motion picture to boot, elegantly shot by Soderbergh who serves as his own cinematographer (under the pseudonym Peter Andrews), and the technical presentation is top-flight. The only real shortcoming is that the movie fails to make any significant emotional impact, even though it tries with a subplot involving Jimmy and his daughter. Nevertheless, there is undeniable heart, and Soderbergh’s style never exactly lends itself to emotion anyway.
Ultimately, it’s the game ensemble cast of recognisable performers which bolsters the material above the ordinary - everybody is fully committed to the absurdity. Tatum and Driver mostly play it straight, though they have their quirks and amusing moments, but it’s Craig who steals the spotlight in his first notable non-James Bond big-screen performance since 2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Sporting bleached blonde hair and many tattoos, Craig is wacky as all hell. It’s not even a flattering role for the current 007, making it all the more commendable that he chose to do it, and in the process remind us all about his considerable acting talents. Elsewhere, Yoakam is a total hoot as Warden Burns, while Family Guy mastermind Seth MacFarlane effortlessly scores several laughs playing a conceited NASCAR sponsor. Even Katherine Waterston makes an appearance as one of Jimmy’s former high school classmates, and Marvel fans will also spot Sebastian Stan (Captain America: Civil War) in the minor role of a successful NASCAR driver.
The summer movie season has become synonymous with expensive action blockbusters, many of which are now sequels or reboots, but Logan Lucky is an original breath of fresh air constructed with intelligence and sophistication, so of course it failed to do much business at the box office. Admittedly, the story does superfluously extend beyond the heist for a lengthy epilogue that doesn’t feel altogether necessary and should be tighter, but the movie comes together well enough as a whole nevertheless. Putting aside any shortcomings, it’s indeed a joy to behold the undiluted vision of a true auteur here, making this a must-see for anybody who appreciates Soderbergh’s cinematic oeuvre. In short, Logan Lucky is an unexpected delight, even if it’s not for all tastes.
As with a number of Soderbergh's previous motion pictures, Logan Lucky was shot digitally with Red Epic cameras and was actually completed natively at 4K (according to the Internet Movie Database), making it a contemporary motion picture of a rare breed. While this goofy heist flick has received a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release overseas, Roadshow Entertainment have only chosen to release a standard 1080p Blu-ray edition locally, which is somewhat disappointing given the rarity of native 4K finishes. Since there are no special features, the movie has the entire single-layered BD-25 to itself, and the resulting AVC-encoded, 1080p high definition presentation is very good, often bordering on great, maintaining a healthy bitrate that averages at 23 Mbps.
The Blu-ray transfer is framed at the movie's original aspect ratio of 2.39:1, and looks to be a highly faithful representation of the source. Pristine and nuanced, it appears that the presentation was created directly from the digital intermediate, given the level of detail on display and the complete lack of any artefacts. Especially during brightly-lit scenes, the image is impressively textured, and close-ups reveal a wealth of detail on faces and clothing. When the brothers visit Joe Bang in prison, close-ups of Craig's face bring out as much detail as a 1080p encode can permit. Even during a wide shot at the 85-minute mark with Warden Burns in the foreground, it's easy to make out the pores and blemishes on Yoakam's skin. Admittedly, however, at times the transfer does look a touch too smooth, particularly during scenes set under low light. This is common with movies shot using Red cameras, and therefore I don't believe this is a flaw of the encode, but rather a shortcoming relating to the source and the limitations of 1080p. Of course, too, don't expect the presentation to bring out as much detail as a 4K Blu-ray is capable of, but this is about the best we can expect.
Sharpness remains exceptional from start to finish, with astonishingly precise object delineation no matter the lighting conditions. No shots look too soft or blurry - everything is razor-sharp. Just see the shot of Jimmy standing outside in the darkness alongside a campfire after the heist; you can count the blades of grass in the background. Colours are terrific too, looking vibrant and lifelike, while excellently-judged contrast allows for stunning image depth and brilliant highlights. At no point does this Blu-ray presentation look too flat. Of course, it could only look better with High Dynamic Range, but as far as SDR is concerned, this is the best that we can expect.
All things considered, Logan Lucky is a winner from a video standpoint. Roadshow's encode is very good, doing justice to the source, but I would still be interested in seeing a 4K alternative. It's also worth pointing out that the United States disc has a higher bitrate - 32 Mbps. So this one could certainly look better.
Only English subtitles are available, and they're perfectly easy to read.
During its theatrical run, Logan Lucky was screened in Dolby Atmos (along with Dolby Vision High Dynamic Range in certain cinemas), but this Blu-ray only comes with a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, which is the only audio option on the disc apart from English Descriptive Audio. This is not unheard of with Roadshow Blu-rays, but it appears that all Blu-ray releases around the world only offer a 5.1 track, even on the 4K Blu-ray, which is simply baffling given that the movie was mixed in Atmos. Soderbergh's movies are usually subdued from an audio perspective, which is just part of his style, and that idiosyncrasy is evident in Logan Lucky. Aside from a few moments featuring the rumbling of car engines, this isn't much of an aggressive track. Dialogue scenes are usually without much accompaniment, and noticeable ambience is rare. When said car engines are heard, though, they are loud - see any of the NASCAR track sequences - and music fills the rear channels when required. The lossless encoding ensures that the mix is crystal clear, with no muffled audio.
However, the track is often noticeably front-centric and sometimes lacking in surround activity. During the opening scene, for instance, the rear channels aren't engaged at all and the dialogue is mixed too low. Later, there is a moving shot from behind the race-cars, but most of the audio comes from the front when the rear channels should be more noticeably engaged. These sorts of moments served to make the track almost feel mono. I did not see the movie at the cinema and therefore cannot be certain if this is source-related, or just a shortcoming of the 5.1 mix, or even an encoding flaw, but it is disappointing nevertheless. In addition, some of the track's noticeable limpness can probably be attributed to the fact that this is a 16-bit track, wheres the (better reviewed) United States release has a 24-bit track. Thankfully, however, I didn't notice any drop-outs, clicks or audio sync issues.
I am deducting stars for the track's shortcomings, as well as the fact that this should rightly be an Atmos mix and should be 24-bit, but the audio is still eminently listenable for the most part. Just be prepared to crank the volume up during certain scenes.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region A standard Blu-ray comes with a pair of deleted scenes: Pro/Con (2:45) and Tap Dancing (1:05). It hardly seems worth importing for the sake of under four minutes of additional footage, but that's up to you. However, the option of a 4K disc gives the American release the edge. If you only care about standard Blu-ray, buy local. If you're 4K compatible, it's best to import.
It's exciting to see director Steven Soderbergh back in action after a four-year hiatus, and he happily resurrects his typical filmmaking sensibilities for the insanely entertaining and slickly-made Logan Lucky.
News about the Blu-ray, on the other hand, is mixed. While the video transfer is very good, the lack of a 4K Blu-ray alternative is disheartening, while the audio is downgraded to a 5.1 mix and there are absolutely no extras. This disc is only worth buying at sale price.
|DVD||LG UP970 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Amplification||Samsung Series 7 HT-J7750W|
|Speakers||Samsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up|