No Sudden Move (2021)
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Screenwriters: Ed Solomon
Starring: Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Kieran Culkin, David Harbour, Brendan Fraser, Ray Liotta, Jon Hamm
Steven Soderbergh and heist movies have a long and varied history. In addition to the all-star, smooth Ocean’s films, Soderbergh has also helmed the likes of Out Of Sight, The Limey and the comedy-drama Logan Lucky. Soderbergh’s most recent effort is the 1950s thriller No Sudden Move, which features a typical all-star cast including Don Cheadle, Jon Hamm, Kieran Culkin, Ray Liotta, Benicio del Toro and Brendan Fraser. Such is Soderbergh’s prolificacy that this is remarkably his 28th film as a director.
It is a shame audiences have been deprived of a cinema release for No Sudden Move as it would surely have commanded an audience. In addition to the clear selling point of its cast, the film has earned strong reviews, such as the one published in The Times: “Soderbergh remains criminally good”, ‘it is an ingeniously overstuffed film’. There were further positive reviews from The Guardian and Evening Standard, indicating that this has been one of Soderbergh’s most well-received of his recent endeavours.
No Sudden Move revolves around a job gone wrong as a hired crew are stitched up for what seems like a straightforward job. Curt Goynes (Cheadle), Ronald Russo (del Toro) and Charley (Culkin) are hired to blackmail Matt Wertz (David Harbour), and the film becomes somewhat of a cat and mouse game with racial tensions rife and the police drawn into the web by Joe Finney (Jon Hamm). The plot can be difficult to follow on occasion, and in typical Soderbergh fashion doesn’t go in the direction audiences may expect – No Sudden Move will perhaps warrant repeat viewings to decipher all the character motivations and the nuances of the story.
No Sudden Move’s cast was bound to be one of the film’s strengths and that is certainly the case. Benicio del Toro and Don Cheadle work well as an odd couple that bounce off each other throughout. These two are far and away the most developed characters in the film, each helping to drive much of the plot. With such a stacked cast, there are times in which it feels like some roles are more extended cameos, with Jon Hamm and Ray Liotta being reduced into this category, but the comeback period of Brendan Fraser is well-and-truly in full flow, with the former lead of The Mummy making a great impact that is integral to No Sudden Move’s success.
The 1950s Detroit setting helps to set this film apart from other Soderbergh crime vehicles and utilises these assets with strong attention to period detail, whether that be the suits or the cars that bustle up and down throughout. The background story revolving around feuds between automotive kingpins like Ford adds layers to the main event and also works to flesh out the period detail. There is something very Coen Brothers about this style of filmmaking, and as such Soderbergh is able to show off his versatility as a director – all the while Ed Solomon’s script maintains contemporary relevancy through focusing on racial tensions and characters that exist between the good and evil archetypes.
No Sudden Move continues Soderbergh’s strong post-retirement phase and is a winning return to a genre that he has helped to make his own in the past three decades. If perhaps it doesn’t quite scale the dizzying heights of Ocean’s Eleven or Logan Lucky, it is good fun led by an irresistible cast who all deliver strong performances. No Sudden Move is a tad overstuffed, but once the narrative is unpicked, it is a clever labyrinth with some intriguing surprises along the way.