I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this. I came in with high expectations, since it was directed by Steven Soderbergh, the man behind the Ocean’s movies, 11, 12, and 13. I enjoyed those enormously, unlikely as they were. I love caper movies, and these were some of the best.
This one was even better than I had hoped. Someone suggested this one was basically Ocean’s 7-11, as it follows a group of rednecks who plan to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the biggest race of the year, the Coca-Cola 600 (which will be happening tomorrow as I write this). It is the antithesis of the elegance of the Vegas capers in the original trilogy. These are good ol’ boys, and a couple of them, played by Brian Gleeson and Jack Quaid, are pretty dim, indeed. But there are no flies on Channing Tatum, who is the planner, nor on Daniel Craig, of all people, as the convict they must bust out of prison and then bust him back into prison so no one will notice he was gone. Craig has about the thickest Southern accent I’ve ever heard, but I accepted it. Kudos to the dialect coach.
The heist itself is worthy of the late, great Donald E. Westlake and his fictional gang led by hard-luck John Dortmunder. And just when you think you understand everything that is going on, they pull the rug out from under you yet again.
There is considerable mystery as to who wrote this. The credits list Rebecca Blunt, which sounds like a possible pseudonym. No one knows anything about her. Speculation has run wild.
I have to describe one scene, as an example of the sly wit in the writing. To get Craig out of the slammer it is necessary to stage a phony riot. During the negotiations one of the inmates’ demands is that all the Game of Thrones book be in the prison library, and all the TV series be available. Mostly, they want The Winds of Winter, as do millions of fans of the books and shows. They warden explains that George RR Martin hasn’t written it yet, that he keeps postponing the date. “Bullshit!” cry the prisoners. I laughed pretty hard.