Movie reviews: 'The Hitman's Bodyguard,' 'Logan Lucky' and 'Wind River'
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By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
A spectacular heist, a thoughtful crime drama and a pleasantly dumb action comedy: Check out my reviews of Logan Lucky, Wind River and The Hitman's Bodyguard.
Steven Soderbergh mercifully reemerges from a thankfully brief four-year "retirement" from film with the hillbilly heist comedy Logan Lucky.
As someone puts it on a TV screen in the background at one point, this is absolutely Ocean's 7-11, but even with Soderbergh working in a familiar key, he finds plenty of new notes to play.
Channing Tatum and Adam Driver star as brothers Jimmy and Clyde Logan; Jimmy has just been laid off from a mining job, and Clyde is a sad-sack bartender with only one hand after being wounded on his second tour of duty in Iraq.
Looking for a way out of their lives of misery, Jimmy hits on a brilliant idea: They'll rob Charlotte Motor Speedway. See, Jimmy's mining company has been working under the track to repair recurring sinkholes, so he knows how and where the copious cash being raked in is deposited.
Getting there requires an expert safecracker, which is — thankfully, gloriously — where Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) comes in. Only he's behind bars, so Jimmy comes up with a shockingly brilliant plan to bust him out.
I won't go any further in describing the caper — except to note the invaluable assistance of Logan sister Mellie (Riley Keough) and the roadblocks of Dwight Yoakam and Hilary Swank. But it comes together delightfully well, a bit more laid back than Soderbergh's Ocean's movies, but just as sharp. (PG-13 for language and some crude comments; click here for showtimes at United Artists Amarillo Star 14, 8275 W. Amarillo Blvd., and Cinemark Hollywood 16, 9100 Canyon Drive)
On a snow-swept Wyoming reservation, where drillers are making piles of money while the Native American residents are mired in poverty, we find a young woman, somehow running across the tundra despite fatal wounds.
Her frozen body is soon found by Fish and Wildlife ranger Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner). She's not just the faceless victim of crime, either: Natalie (Kelsey Chow) was a friend of his daughter, who also died on the unforgiving land.
An inexperienced FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) soon arrives to lead the investigation despite the presence of an experienced tribal officer (Graham Greene, always welcome) and county sheriff's officers. Natalie's death is our main focus, but screenwriter Taylor Sheridan, directing his first film since the little-seen 2011 horror film Vile, is more interested in the societal forces at play — racism, income inequality, misogyny.
Sheridan's career as a writer took off with Sicario and Hell or High Water, both of which also combined noir elements with socially conscious narratives. Wind River isn't as successful as those — Sheridan is still polishing his skills as a director, and perhaps could have used a more discerning editor — but it's an effective procedural nonetheless. (Would it have been better told through the eyes of a Native American? Certainly. But you review the film that's made, not the one you want.) (R for strong violence, a rape, disturbing images, and language; click here for showtimes at Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16)
The Hitman's Bodyguard
There's almost nothing in film as tried-and-true as a buddy comedy that pairs an odd couple grudgingly agreeing to work together to reach a common goal.
The latest iteration is The Hitman's Bodyguard, and outside of Samuel L. Jackson's mellifluous use of the f-bomb, there's not that really sets it apart. But the formula is so good, and Jackson and co-star Ryan Reynolds have just enough comedic chemistry, that really, it almost doesn't matter how unoriginal the concept is — at least if you're just looking for a harmless way to kill a couple of hours.
Reynolds is Michael Bryce, a overly cautious, down-on-his-luck bodyguard — always 110 percent prepared, always wearing a seat belt, always wanting a simple, boring job instead of facing any action. Jackson is Darius Kincaid, a killer-for-hire who's not going to let anything silly like a bullet wound or a broken limb stop him from doing his job — reckless, impulsive but darn good at his job.
Bryce is asked by his ex-girlfriend (Elodie Yung), an Interpol agent, to transport Kincaid to Copenhagen, where he can testify against a genocidal Belarusian ruler (Gary Oldman, having fun). Kincaid's willing to testify if it means his beloved wife (Salma Hayek, a hoot) is released from a Dutch jail, and Bryce is hoping to repair a reputation left in tatters after one of his clients got shot in the head.
There's a mole in Interpol, naturally, and you'll never guess his/her identity unless you've never seen a movie before or unless you have an aversion to bad dye jobs. The script, as you'd probably guess, is nothing too special, but it does allow Jackson to say, when told to stay out of harm's way, "Sh--, mother------, I am harm's way." Kudos to the car/boat/motorcycle chase along the canals of Amsterdam for being just plain fun, and to Hayek and Jackson for having such a blast together.
Fun isn't quite enough for an unqualified recommendation, and when films like Baby Driver and Atomic Blonde can combine spectacular action with thoughtful scripts, Hitman's Bodyguard is definitely going to suffer. But if you need to turn your brain off for a while, it's not a bad option. (R for strong violence and language throughout; click here for showtimes at Amarillo Star 14 and Cinemark Hollywood 16)