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Watched: 5 December

Steven Soderbergh’s comeback film following a self-imposed hiatus is a rather endearing robbery caper that’s set in West Virginia against the backdrop of a popular NASCAR race. It has a lot going for it, not least the rather entertaining and eminently likeable cast, which includes Riley Keogh, Adam Driver and Channing Tatum as the three Logan siblings, who plan to carry out a heist while the race is on and must deal with the small matter of a family curse that hangs over their heads. They’re joined by Daniel Craig as incarcerated explosives expert ‘Joe Bang’, plus a couple of Joe’s own brothers, whose dumbness is mined for comic laughs. (I’m fairly familiar with this part of the world and have spent plenty of time in Virginia and West Virginia, and I feel confident in saying that the Georgia-born Soderbergh is very much behind his characters, rather than standing in front of them urging us to look and laugh at them, despite the occasional scene that milks the idiocy of the redneck Bang Brothers.)

Of course the director has previous in this field and, as with the criminals in Ocean’s Eleven, Soderbergh quickly gets you on side with the Logans and the Bangs; there’s no villain of the piece to hiss at here, though, unless you count Seth McFarlane’s preposterous English NASCAR racer and team owner, in which we can see shades of the French driver played by Sacha Baron Cohen in Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby. The accents are all over the place but everyone seems on good form and it’s an entertaining, light-hearted way to pass a couple of hours; perhaps more could have been made of the excellent supporting cast, though, as Katherine Waterston, Macon Blair, Hilary Swank and Sebastian Stan get barely a few minutes of screen time between them. (****)


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