This American comedy tells the story of two brothers who mastermind a robbery during a National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) meeting in North Carolina, USA. The film is directed by Steven Soderbergh, the Director responsible for the Las Vegas heist comedy, “Oceans 11” (2001). In the USA, NASCAR is second to Football in sports-appeal.
Jimmy (Channing Tatum), and Clyde (Adam Driver) are two siblings from the Logan family. Jimmy is a heavy-equipment operator, who concocts an elaborate plan to commit a robbery during the Coca-Cola 600 car race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina during the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Jimmy is sure there is a curse on his family. The family has been poor for generations, and catastrophic events have occurred in its history, such as a roof collapse and an electrocution. He doesn’t understand why, and everyone in his family seems to have reliably failed at whatever has been attempted. He hopes the robbery will set things straight, and he will be lucky this time.
The film opens with a scene where Jimmy is fired by his construction company while working at the Motor Speedway. He has leg injury that he incurred in the Iraq War, and he was caught by someone from Human Resources (HR) walking with a limp, that was actually caused by a football injury. After HR reported him, he was classified as having a “pre-existing” condition that conveniently removes the company’s insurance liability. Jimmy’s brother, Clyde (Adam Driver), has a prosthetic left hand that is not always attached to the rest of his body, and he works as a bar-tender. Hilary Swank enters very late in the film, and enigmatically plays an eccentric FBI agent who tries to sternly bring down the hand of the law.
Jimmy and Clyde realise they can’t execute their plan without getting the help of explosive expert, and they choose Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), because he is the best explosive man they know – the money they want is running through tubes lying under the speedway stadium, and the tubes have to be blown up. There is a problem, however. Joe is in jail. The brothers first have to mount a prison break to get him out, and then after the robbery, they have to get him back into prison.
Joe is a convict with bleached blond hair, who has a compulsive liking for hard boiled eggs, which he gets from the vending machine in the visitors’ room. Joe’s two siblings join the heist team, and Jimmy adds his sister, Mellie (Riley Keough). The team ends up being a bunch of eccentric misfits.
The plot line for the movie is ridiculous. To provide extra comic appeal, the film is set in the middle of Trump country, and pulls no punches in what it chooses to satirise. It makes fun of computer expertise, the media, IT, business ethics, children’s beauty pageants, and so-called police efficiency. Its humour is pointedly sarcastic.
Everyone in this movie is obviously having a great time. Daniel Craig, acts entirely against his “James Bond” personae, and excels with his comic portrayal of Joe, the phobic convict. Joe especially likes the way that the vending machine in prison serves him hard boiled eggs.
The film is a boisterous comedy that communicates its satirical wit broadly. The plot line defies logical analysis, and conveys no signs of social snobbery or pretension. Nothing in the heist goes according to plan, no one seems to care, and the film has obviously been made to please.
There is a final twist at the end of the movie that shouldn’t be revealed, but it all adds up to an enjoyable time at the cinema. “Oceans 11” had more drama, but this film is sillier with lots of twists in its plot line, and the satire is especially far ranging. From corruption to inefficiency, it delivers unsophisticated humour, aims it well, and has a good team of actors to carry the day.
Peter W. Sheehan is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting
Review by the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting