Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 2017. Trans-Radial Pictures, Free Association. Screenplay by Rebecca Blunt. Cinematography by Steven Soderbergh. Produced by Reid Carolin, Gregory Jacobs, Mark Johnson, Channing Tatum. Music by David Holmes. Production Design by Howard Cummings. Costume Design by Ellen Mirojnick. Film Editing by Steven Soderbergh. National Board of Review Awards 2017. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2017.
Steven Soderbergh returns to feature film directing after a four year hiatus with a fun retread of Oceans Eleven among a less sophisticated set (or Oceans 7-11, as one character in the film calls it). Channing Tatum is amiable as a struggling construction worker who needs an infusion of cash when his stern ex-wife (an excellent Katie Holmes) informs him that she’s moving across state lines with their daughter and he needs cash for the legal team he will hire to fight her custody. Tatum and his one-armed bartender brother (Adam Driver) decide to rob a NASCAR race, ignoring the fact that their family’s general bad luck hasn’t given them much to work with in many years. Drawing in their good-natured sister (the always outstanding Riley Keough), an explosives expert (Daniel Craig, returning to his pre-Bond grungy gangster character days) and Craig’s easily muddled brothers (Jack Quaid, Brian Gleeson), they plan the intricate details of infiltrating their way into a stadium vault whose stash of money will set them all up for life. There are no end of fun twists and surprises that are only easy to see coming because this sort of film always has fun twists and surprises (including when Soderbergh makes them), but the charming performances don’t feel like Hollywood stars patronizing the folks of the heartland despite their tacky accents and overly teased hair (imagining what the Coen Brothers would do with these characters makes one cringe). The subplot of Tatum’s daughter being part of a children’s beauty contest has elements stolen outright from Little Miss Sunshine (right down to the parental disapproval of ice cream) and threatens to topple Rebecca Blunt’s fun screenplay with one stroke too many, but the film maintains a pleasant flavour too well for this to be a major problem (not to mention that Farrah Mackenzie is too endearing as Tatum’s daughter to be unwelcome in any one of her scenes).