After semi-retiring, Steven Soderbergh returns to one of his favourite genres, the caper film. This time out he plays it like Oceans Eleven with rednecks. Set in the American South and taking full advantage of the southern drawls and casual way of life, it doesn’t so much make fun of the South as show it as a place with heart.
It’s also a work of two parts and while the first half struggles a bit to find its footing, in the second half, things pick up nicely. As in all good caper yarns, things are not always as they seem and the work’s internal logic by film’s end is most satisfying. Soderbergh as is his way, loads the film with a heavy duty cast and it’s great to see Daniel Craig play against his usual screen persona as Joe Bang, a bleach blonde career criminal with a way with science.
Most will compare it to Soderbergh’s previous works but it’s hard to surpass the Clooney charm factor and so that suave sensibility is replaced with a more humorous approach and it doesn’t always fire on all cylinders. Some of the film’s characters are also not that clearly defined and this slows things down a bit in the first couple of reels.
It’s a welcome return for Soderbergh to the big screen and overall it’s a pleasant experience. Let’s hope his self exile doesn’t last and next time he tackles something with a little more meat on the bone.