No Sudden Move (2021) Review

Steven Soderbergh's 1950s heist caper is an entertaining affair

Rony Patra -

No Sudden Move (2021) Review
Platform
HBO Max
Platform Icons Click To Stream
Format
Original Movie Review
Movie Rated
18+
Genre
Crime,Historical Fiction
Language
English

What is the story about?

Curt Goynes, a gunman who has recently been released from jail, is signed up by enforcer Doug Jones, along with Ronald Russo and Charley, for a job in which Goynes and Russo must take the family of Matt Wertz hostage, while Charley makes Wertz retrieve an important document from his boss' safe. However, the document leads to confusion, chaos between rival gangs, robberies....and even death.

Analysis

There's no stopping Steven Soderbergh. A few years ago, the prolific auteur-filmmaker said he was done with filmmaking, and yet No Sudden Move underlines the fact that he's still got his creative mojo alive and kicking. Imagine a story that combines the twisted nature of the Coen Brothers' Fargo with the cool quotient of Logan Lucky, the Ocean's franchise and The Laundromat, topped up with a tribute to Christopher Marlowe's play Doctor Faustus. Ed Solomon's dense screenplay documents the dark underbelly of 1950s Detroit very well, but it is Soderbergh's direction that provides the film its pizzazz and style.

If, in the Ocean's universe, Soderbergh showed a motley crew of robbers getting away with committing improbable heists, he subverts that trope skilfully in this caper. Here, the actual heist does not matter as much as the people running it. Trust is in short supply in a city that is full of rogues, who may or may not belong to the underworld. Characters engage in all sorts of schemes and double-crossings in order to make a quick buck, but Soderbergh intertwines this caper with the sobering realization that the real robbers are the ones running the economy, not the footsoldiers working for them. Solomon's screenplay and Soderbergh's astute eye for detail capture nuances such as the criminal underbelly of automobile manufacturers in the 1950s, the various gangs lording over Detroit and racial tensions. But, true to his craft, Soderbergh never lets these details come in the way of an entertaining crime caper that almost borders on black comedy. You won't regret devoting a couple of hours to this instant classic.

Performances

The ensemble cast is flat-out fabulous. Don Cheadle is in supreme form as Curt Goynes, who wants to get away from the murky world of Detroit as far as possible, but cannot help his greed come in the way of common sense. Benicio del Toro matches him, toe for toe, as the equally-shady and Scotch-loving Ronald Russo, and the sequences between them are absolutely electric. David Harbour is terrific as Matt Wertz, who contends with the implosion of his marriage and his job in a single day, while Amy Seimetz shows steely resolve as his wife Mary. Brendan Fraser is assured as portly enforcer Doug Jones, while Kieran Culkin is menacing as Charley. Ray Liotta and Bill Duke shine as rival gangsters Frank Capelli and Aldrick Watkins, while Julia Fox is believable as the wily Vanessa, Capelli's wife who also has an affair with Russo. Jon Hamm doesn't get to do much as detective Joe Finney. And then there's Matt Damon, who has a thrilling one-scene cameo as automobile maven Mike Lowen.

Music & Other Departments

Soderbergh shoots and edits this film under the aliases of Peter Andrews and Mary Ann Bernard, as he always does, and having a single authorial vision does wonders for the entertaining story, with a lot of fish-eye shots conveying the confusing mood of the narrative. Hannah Beachler's production design is fantastic, with a sharp eye to detail. David Holmes' background score builds the mood perfectly, and the choice of songs on the soundtrack is great, with Bobby Mitchell's rendition of Well, I Done Got Over It providing a fitting swansong.

Highlights

The sequence where Goynes and Russo meet Mike Lowen in the Gotham Hotel is an instant classic.
 
The production design and background score match the aesthetics of 1950s America. The dialogues are also top-notch and sparkle with dry wit. When Matt says he does not know the combination to the safe from where he has to steal the document, Charley quips, "That's okay, his secretary does. And from what we understand, you have the combo to his secretary." Classic.

Drawbacks

The opening 15-20 minutes can make you feel confused about what the movie is about.
 
Also, the character of the secretary having an affair with Matt Wertz was not really necessary.

Did I enjoy it?

I had a huge grin on my face while watching this.

Do I recommend it?

Hell yeah. This is an enjoyable ride.


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