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‘No Sudden Move’ is another solid caper from a heist master

‘No Sudden Move’ is another solid caper from a heist master

‘No Sudden Move’ is another solid caper from a heist master
July 10
12:30 2021

“Motherf–ker’s got eyes, they just can’t see.”

“Let me ask you something. What made you think you could trust me?”

Detroit, 1954. Curt Goynes (Don Cheadle) is a day fresh out of prison when he’s contacted by Jones (Brendan Fraser) for a job with two other thugs: Ronald Russo (Benicio Del Toro) and Charley (Kieran Culkin). They take the family of Matt Wertz (David Harbour) hostage and force him to retrieve some valuable documents. However, things take a turn for the worst and soon everyone in the long line of command is ensnared in an increasingly tangled web of crime, police and American industry. 

The newest heist from Steven Soderbergh, “No Sudden Move” returns the master director to familiar territory for an ensemble crime drama, this time with a dash of neo-noir. With a stacked ensemble cast including Cheadle, Del Toro, Fraser, Harbour, Jon Hamm, Julia Fox and so many more, is Soderbergh able to pull off yet another solid win? 

Definitely.  

With “No Sudden Move,” Soderbergh and his crew plan and execute a thrilling vision of ex-cons, gangsters and 1950s noir with the tight, reliable efficiency fans and casuals should expect from him. 

Especially with this cast — Soderbergh’s usual casting director Carmen Cuba returns and it shows. Not only does this feature some incredibly capable performers, they even got Brendan Fraiser, Ray Liota and Julia Fox. Frasier’s been largely, and wrongly, relegated to the small-screen until recently, Liotta finally gets to be in a good movie after years of crap small jobs and Fox delights just as much as she did in “Uncut Gems.” 

The main cast also deserves praise: Cheadle gets to turn in a suitably measured, gruff performer as Curt, del Toro is wonderfully amicable, yet menacing as Ronald and Harbour play against type as a nervous, out-of-his-depth accountant. There’s also plenty of smaller roles to be discussed, such as Amy Seimetz’s surprisingly engaging turn as Wertz’s wife, whose world is overturned by events. 

Ed Solomon, the writer of the “Ocean’s” trilogy and co-writer for “Bill & Ted,” returns here and creates a complex web of intrigue. It complicates somewhat near the end, but he weaves a pretty brisk tale that culminates in a shockingly palpable tale of how the people at the bottom are often played and screwed by those at the top. Those who barely think twice about covering up their own misdeeds and justify them with overly flowery speeches and basking in their own slimy glory. Something all too palpable given current events and discussions. 

The only real critique is that many characters, including our protagonists, are left pretty thin on overall characterization. There is also maybe a whole subplot that could have been cut involving Harbour, another involving a two-scene character, but they don’t really disrupt the flow. 

The script also does not hold the audience’s hand. While it can be complicated, part of the fun is gradually untangling everything and dotting the I’s. Some knowledge of Detroit’s history regarding the automotive industry may help, but it otherwise becomes clear by the end and mentally unscrewing everything is always fun. 

Let’s not forget Soderbergh’s approach to filmmaking — the man is known for his attention to detail, incredible eye for editing and willingness to experiment. Here, he keeps Soloman’s script and the cast traveling through Detroit’s dark corners at a lovely pace, never really too slow or too fast. He knows just when to tap the brakes and when to slam the accelerator. 

One aspect that might throw some people off is how the film is shot, through this kind of warped, fish-eye lens, where everything squishes a little on the sides. There’s currently no information regarding what lens or camera was used, though Soderbergh has recently used an iPhone for projects like “High Flying Bird”and “Unsane.” It’s a bit weird, but it helps add this sense of unease to the proceedings and I didn’t mind after a bit. 

David Holmes, also returning from the “Ocean’s” Trilogy and “Logan Lucky,” composes a nice, dynamic jazz-driven score, with a nice mix of bongos, piano and other instruments. It’s actually something of a small selection, but it suits the period and helps accentuate scenes as any good music should. 

As for what could be improved, there’s the aforementioned flatness of many characters, though the actors do work well with what they’re given. The plot is a bit heavy on introducing so many players, but it works. However, this movie is a bit subdued for a Soderbergh caper. It’s nice, but it doesn’t really stand out among Soderbergh’s filmography. Aside from the period setting, there’s not much that really sticks.

It’s just nice, solid work from Soderbergh. 

Still, HBO Max’s interface and janky input response is absolutely disgusting. 

“No Sudden Move” is another riveting story from a master of his craft, told with immaculate writing and performer by top-of-their-game actors and actresses. While it may be a bit quiet, this is certainly another hit from Soderbergh and one not to miss. 

Final rating: 3.75/5

Courtesy The New Yorker

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Will Tarpley

Will Tarpley

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