No Sudden Move film review (2021)

Steven Soderbergh’s latest crime thriller, No Sudden Move, moves at a fast pace but never feels rushed. The ensemble cast delivers incredible individual performances and the film, as a whole, further diversifies and enhances Soderbergh’s already extensive filmography.

I’m starting to believe Steven Soderbergh is one of the greatest film directors working today. Of course, I’ve always thought he was fantastic and very unique in his approach. But, with every passing year and him consistently adding new projects to his resume, he’s starting to separate himself from the rest of the pack with his style and gift for telling engaging stories. This is definitely on display with his latest effort, No Sudden Move. In typical Soderbergh fashion, he brings in a stacked cast of talent and somehow makes them all feel important to the overall plot. In most cases, other films always give more shine to a certain character, but in Soderbergh’s movies, he sets out to make sure each person has something to give without making them feel dispensable. The more impressive part is he’s done this time and time again with other films he’s made, such as the Oceans trilogy, Contagion, Magic Mike, Side Effects, and Logan Lucky. He truly has a talent for this and it’s hard to think of other directors who are able to deliver on this front like he has, time and time again.

What may be even more impressive is his diverse filmography. He’s done all kinds of movies that dip into different genres, including some action thrillers, dramas, biographical movies, and even comedies. He’s no stranger to heist movies, and the Oceans trilogy proves this. In many ways, No Sudden Move can also be considered a heist film, or at least have some elements of it.

No Sudden Move takes place in 1950’s Detroit. When two criminals are tasked with stealing a document, things don’t go as planned and now, they’re on a mission to find out who hired them and why they were wronged.

What always captivates me with most of his movies, especially as of late, is how they’re shot. The camera angles are incredibly unique and in some ways, it feels like one continuous shot. There are various instances of this in No Sudden Move, and it’s always a stand out. You’re able to get a feel for the character and the personality, in a sense, as well as their surroundings. At the start of this film, you get a good shot of the environment and it automatically sets the tone for the rest of the movie, which is something I love. Being set in Detroit, you really get a good feel for the culture and how so many different kinds of people inhabit the city. At the same time, you also get the notion that changes are in motion because of the time it’s in. It’s definitely a period piece.

Speaking more on how it’s shot, Soderbergh actually uses a wide-angle lens in this film. In certain scenes, you’ll notice how the image of some characters off to the side seems a bit weird or distorted. It’s because it looks sort of like a panoramic, fish-eye shot, which is something I rarely see, if at all, in a movie. This isn’t the first time he has experimented with different shots and angles either. He’s shot some other movies with iPhones, such as High Flying Bird, and he’s always looking to see how he can reinvent himself and test new waters, which is something I love about his directing style.

In the very first scene, you’re introduced to one of the main characters, Curt Goynes, played by Don Cheadle. I’ve always thought Don Cheadle was great, but he hasn’t really done something like this in quite some time. Quite frankly, I don’t blame him though, especially when you get opportunities to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and all the greatness it has been producing for more than a decade.

Cheadle is the best he’s been in a long time as Curt here. He portrays a very charismatic individual who’s also a bit mysterious. You get the notion there’s more to him you aren’t entirely aware of just yet and Cheadle completely sells this in more ways than one. The same can be said of Benicio del Toro’s character, Ronald Russo. In essence, they’re both two sides of the same coin. They both have extensive experience in this line of work, which is being crooks. Ronald seems a bit reserved, but also equally mysterious. He’s definitely more methodical in his approach to things, which I think is the difference between him and Curt. Overall, both are phenomenal in their roles and really elevate these characters.

The main two really do get the most screen time out of anyone else in the film, but it doesn’t mean the other characters don’t feel important or don’t serve a specific purpose to the plot. Almost every other performer, including David Harbour, Jon Hamm, Ray Liotta, Noah Jupe, and Brendan Frasier feels just as important to the film as the two stars. Even Matt Damon, who’s only in the movie for about 10 minutes, steals the scene he’s in. Then again, it is Matt Damon. The same can be said about Bill Duke. This goes to show how Soderbergh is able to get the most out of all of the roles in the movie. Sometimes, I wish I saw more of them, sure. But, at the same time, I’m not mad with certain character decisions since I feel their purpose was fulfilled. In other words, they weren’t useless or unimportant to me.

The plot really excels for me. It isn’t always smooth. In fact, it can be a crazy ride full of unforeseeable twists and turns that’ll leave you shocked and at odds with certain characters. Throughout my watch, I found myself not being able to trust not one single person in certain scenes. I mean, you think you have someone figured out and you’re almost sure their intentions are genuine and pure. Then, boom! They make a controversial decision and everything changes. You’re then unraveling from what just happened and trying to figure out what’s going to happen next. Sometimes, you think things can only go up, and it delves even deeper into the feeling of the unknown. Then again, there are moments that can be perceived as anticlimactic. It really does it all and it can be a bit of an exhausting watch if you aren’t mentally prepared for it. As for me, since this is something established close to the beginning of the film, I was ready for everything else, even if I didn’t know what was going to happen exactly. You can say it’s a bit clogged up with numerous things happening at once, but I never felt it lost track of the story it was trying to tell and the themes it was conveying. In many ways, I felt I was watching some things that actually happen in cities like this, even in the one I live, but never hear about. In a strange way, it captures your attention since, although it can be a bit dramatized and exaggerated, it also feels incredibly realistic.

Soderbergh takes risks with his films and this is no different. I thoroughly enjoyed watching No Sudden Move for a variety of reasons and I think it deserves to be seen. In a perfect and normal world, this should be seen on the big screen and should be talked about as a very ambitious, and ultimately successful, film, which is full of style and substance. Let’s see what else Soderbergh will do next, because at this point, I’m not missing anything he’s attached to make.

Score: A

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